Airmen from the US Air Force (USAF) 88th Test and Evaluation Squadron have participated in the testing of the new Uniform Integrated Protective Ensemble (UIPE) Air two-piece system.
The protective suit testing was conducted by the US Department of Defense (DoD) representatives at Nellis Air Force Base (AFB).
During this phase, the new UIPE systems integration was tested on HH-60 Pave Hawk medium-lift combat search and rescue (CSAR) helicopter from the 855th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.
UIPE Air is a layered clothing system that includes gloves, respirator, undergarments, among many others.
Once approved, the system will be fielded to all aircrews across fixed wing, rotary wing, ejection seat and large frame aircraft across the DoD.
Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) AF CBRN Defense Systems Branch systems engineer 2nd lieutenant Gunnar Kral said: “This item will service aircrews for the US Navy, marine corps, army and airforce, so our testing phase is critical.”
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This new updated defence system provides chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) protection to aircrews in a toxic environment.
It offers better mobility and is more breathable and reduces the ‘thermal burden’ on warfighters so that the aircrews will be able to stay longer in the suit.
UIPE Air will replace the current 66P legacy system.
AFLCMC, AF CBRN Defense Systems Branch systems engineer 1st lieutenant Hunter Mangueira said: “Moving to an underlayer, allows aircrews to use an outer layer they’re more familiar with, like their flight suits.
“We’re trying to make CBRN flight equipment similar to the flight crews regular mission set equipment, removing the learning curve and any hindrance when they conduct their missions.”
USAF considers the latest upgrade as an immense undertaking, as the service alone accounts for over 80,000 UIPE Air systems.
The participating agencies involved in the system’s development aim to finalise and verify the design and begin distribution by the second quarter of FY2024.