The US Air Force (USAF) is set to complete the deployment of next-generation chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) protective masks with aircrew on rotary wing aircraft units.

Known as the Joint Service Aircrew Mask Rotary Wing (JSAM RW), the improved masks will replace the Aircrew Eye and Respiratory Protection system currently used on HH-60G Pave Hawk and UH-1N Huey aircraft.

The completion of fielding the new CBRN protective masks with the rotary wing aircraft units will allow them to achieve full operational capability.

Designed to provide improved ocular, percutaneous and respiratory protection for aircrew, the new mask features night-vision goggles, a five times increase in fit factor, a six-fold increase in battery life, and a removable faceplate with an enhanced field of view.

US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) CBRN defense systems branch chief engineer Dr Mohamed Mughal said: “With recent and continuing world events, our nation’s ability to effectively fight and win in an environment that involves weapons of mass destruction has become more and more important.

“Fielding the new masks is significant because they are replacing equipment that limits the capability of aircrew to perform their mission.”

“So far, the airforce has already delivered JSAM RW masks to almost a dozen airbases around the world.”

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Nearly 100 aircrew flight equipment personnel and about 75 aircrews have already been trained so far by fielding teams from the joint program executive office for CBRN defence and air combat command.

Training for the CBRN protective masks covered sizing, fitting and preventative maintenance checks and services, as well as the proper wear and use of the mask.

AFLCMC CBRN defence systems materiel leader lieutenant colonel William Holl said: “Fielding the new masks is significant because they are replacing equipment that limits the capability of aircrew to perform their mission.

“The feedback I’m getting from aircrew is that they love the system and are excited about getting this new capability.”