Home' Defence Technology Review : DTR SEP 2014 Contents 47
DEFENCE TECHNOLOGY REVIEW | ISSUE 02 | SEP 2014
Keeping aircrewmen cool
Wearable cooling system tested
for helo crewmen.
RESEARCHERS AT THE US Army’s Natick Soldier Systems
Center have tested a new wearable micro-climate cooling system
designed to prevent heat-illness in helicopter aircrewman, crew
chiefs and flight medics.
Although the concept of helicopter pilots connecting up to
aircraft-mounted micro-climate cooling systems is not new,
aircrewman operating in the helicopter cabin have to date been
reluctant to utilise the same systems as they tend to restrict
movement around the cabin and can easily become entangled in
the tethers that connect them to the systems.
The Light-Weight Environmental Cooling System (LWECS)
tested at Natick is independent of the aircraft and worn by the
aircrewman, allowing them free movement inside the cabin
without tripping on tethers and to exit the aircraft while still
LWECS comprises a small 120 Watt cooling (refrigeration)
unit approximately 90mm in diameter that connects to a cooling
vest, through which it pumps a chilled fluid. The cooling vest has
around 33m of tubing through which the fluid passes. As the vest is
worn against the skin, cooling is imparted via conduction.
LWECS is powered by a plate-like conformal battery that can fit
inside body armor.
– Ian Bostock
US Army researchers are evaluating
a body-worn cooling system to help
helicopter aircrewman avoid heat stress.
Image: US Army
Researchers from the Natick Soldier Research,
Development and Engineering Center
(NSRDEC) and the US Army Research Institute
of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM),
working with Product Manager Air Warrior,
tested LWECS at Natick’s Doriot Climatic
Chambers. With the assistance of volunteers
wearing MOPP 4 chemical-protective gear, they
simulated 11-hour missions in desert and jungle
“We’ve been living in the desert for the last
20 years, but we also know that the Pacific
Rim is the next area that we’re looking at,” said
Bruce Caderette, a research physiologist with
USARIEM’s Thermal and Mountain Medicine
Division. “We’ve been providing micro-climate
cooling for the pilots for 16 years now. It made
them be able to prolong their mission, their
endurance time and to perform at a higher level.”
The hope is that aircrewman will be able to
realise similar benefits with LWECS, without
being tethered to an aircraft-mounted system.
“Right now we’re looking at crew chiefs who
have to load and unload cargo and maintain the
cargo,” Cadarette said. “They also have to sit as
rear gunners in some of the helicopter frames.
“The other people that we’re concentrating on
are the medics, who have to fly out in the back of
the helicopters, and who have to go out and treat
wounded in the field, load them onto stretchers
[and] get them onto the back of the helicopter.”
Over two weeks, the five test subjects each took
two turns in the simulated desert conditions
and a pair in the jungle conditions – one using
the cooling system and one without it – in the
The cooling systems and the volunteers
performed well, according to the researchers.
“We really haven’t had any issues with it
[LWECS],” said Laprise, who looked at the fluid
temperature before and after it passed through
the system, and monitored flow rate. “By and
large, they’ve been very reliable.”
Cadarette said the same for the volunteers, who
sat for 50 minutes and walked for 10 minutes
each hour to simulate missions during which
they would get off and back on the aircraft.
“A lot of the day is not heavy work, but for brief
periods of time they work very, very hard,”
Cadarette said. “Now you’ve got a battle
between your muscles calling for blood in order
to exercise and your skin calling for blood in
order to cool off.”
During the 11-hour sessions, Cadarette and his
team monitored core and skin temperature, heart
rate and everything that went into or came out of
the subjects’ bodies.
“From our point of view, we monitor everything
we can, physiologically,” Cadarette said. “So
now we know, are you doing better with the
Researchers have a great deal of data to sift
through, but the early indications are that the
LWECS is making a difference.
“Physiologically, we’re seeing that their body
core temperatures are lower, their heart rates are
lower,” Cadaratte said. “So far, what I’m seeing
looks really good. I think we can show that the
cooling portion of this does what we’re asking
– Natick Public Affairs
Volunteers in MOPP 4 protective gear
are monitored by researchers from
the US Army Research Institute of
Environmental Medicine during testing
of a body-worn micro-climate cooling
system for helicopter aircrewman.
Image: US Army
FOLLOWING THE GLOBAL trend away from foods containing
unduly high levels of trans fatty acids (TFA), the US Army’s Natick
Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center (NSR-
DEC) has taken steps to reduce the amount of TFA in combat
rations for soldiers.
Whilst it is recognised that saturated fat, TFA and dietary
cholesterol should be as low as possible in the interests of
cardiovascular disease and weight control and that foods
contained in combat ration packs may require a higher fat
content to meet the increased energy requirements of soldiers in
the field and extended product stability and shelf life, the amount
of TFA in Meal, Ready-to-Eat (MRE) products was assessed,
and alternative formulations were developed for food products
containing the highest amounts of TFA.
NSRDEC evaluation of newly formulated products included
shelf life testing to verify that the products met military ration
shelf life requirements of six months at 100° Fahrenheit (37.8°
Celsius) and three years at 80° Fahrenheit (26.7° Celsius), as
well as field testing to ensure warfighter approval. This research
proved that selected ration components could be made with no
TFA, whilst still complying with strict military requirements.
TFAs were subsequently removed from a variety of
components such as brownies, dairy shakes, pound cakes,
crackers and tortillas, as well as the high energy First Strike
ration pack designed to enhance soldier performance during the
first 72 hours of combat. As required, specifications were revised
and submitted to the Defense Logistics Agency – Troop Support
Subsistence for procurement in ration contracts.
These efforts to reduce TFAs in combat rations has, according
to NSRDEC, resulted in a 40 per cent reduction in the mean
TFA content when comparing MRE 32 menus (2012 production)
AUSTRALIA’S DEFENCE SCIENCE and Technology
Organisation has developed digital encryption technology to
protect military computers from cyber attack without relying on
tightly controlled, locked down systems
or the inherent integrity of the system
The Digital Video Guard (DVG) is a
peripheral device that permits internet
transactions, content and applications
to be secured and sensitive information
delivered whilst using untrusted
The DVG acts as a Trojan
countermeasure which, when inserted
between a host computer and a display
or monitor, enables the contents of a
known video signal to be assessed as
from a trusted source via the use of
pixel level encryption. If the display is
decrypted and rendered successfully
to MRE 34 menus (2014 production). Further reductions are
planned for MRE 35 (2015 production) and future menus.
Combat Feeding Directorate, in co-operation with the
Department of Defense Nutrition Committee, other government
regulatory agencies and military ration manufacturers will further
reduce the use of TFAs as technology and innovation emerges.
Reducing trans fats in combat rations
DSTO develops cyber attack barrier
Meals without harmful
trans fats are now on
the menu for US troops.
Image: US Army
(i.e. it is not just garbled white noise) then the integrity of data
Interactions with internet applications are secured using
graphical challenges that are also protected
by the DVG.
Requiring no software support, the DVG
comprises a field programmable gate array,
trusted light emitting diode indicating
integrity, smart card interface enabling
cr yptography and anti-tamper measures.
The DVG can be used as an external
hard drive, or be retrofitted internally,
and operates with existing, commercially
available network routers that deploy
industry standard ‘Suite B AES’
The Digital Video Guard developed by
DSTO to protect computer networks
against internet-borne cyber attack.
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