Water-Cooled Vest Boosts Iraq Drivers’ Performance

The Army showed off the micro-climate cooling system June 12 at the Pentagon. It is part of the Program Executive Office Soldier initiative, which works on modernizing weapons and equipment to make them lighter and more effective.

The latest thing in military PPE is a water-cooled vest that is keeping U.S. Army vehicle drivers in Iraq cooler and helping them maintain critical awareness longer, the Army News Service reported June 16. The vest was displayed June 12 at the Pentagon along with a lighter .50-caliber machine gun and a common control panel for unmanned vehicles, ANS reported. The micro-climate cooling vest weighs one pound and is lined with tubing through which cold water circulates. The chiller for the water is a small box mounted inside the vehicle and connected to the vest by a cable. It is part of the Program Executive Office Soldier initiative, which works on modernizing weapons and equipment to make them lighter and more effective.

"It'll allow the drivers, commanders and gunners, and the scouts to wear a vest underneath the body armor that will allow them to run longer missions than they are today so their body will stay at a constant cool temperature in hot vehicles when they are standing up out of turrets," Scott Senter of PEO Soldier’s Mounted Soldier System Program said in the report, which was posted at www.defense.gov. "It'll keep their body at a constant 68 to 70 degrees instead of being at 112 that we were seeing when we were deployed. We had it deployed with the 4-9 Infantry Battalion in Iraq with the Strykers, for the drivers only, and it's being put out in Abrams and Bradley. They love it. They don't want to leave without it. If it's not working or functioning, they make sure it is before they go out for a mission."

He said pilots who used the vest could perform a mission for five or five and a half hours, versus one hour to 90 minutes without it. "With this, keeping you cooled down during the mission, your situational awareness will stay peak," he said.

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