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Next Generation Soldier Cooling Solutions for Modern Military Operations

Winning the War against Heat – How to Minimize Injury and Gain Effectiveness Battling the Temperature Lessons from the Desert

Sponsored by

Personal Thermal Management: A Cool Revolution Staying Cool in the Future

Published by Global Business Media



Next Generation Soldier Cooling Solutions for Modern Military Operations

Contents Foreword 2 Tom Cropper, Editor

Winning the War against Heat – How to Minimize Injury and Gain Effectiveness Battling the Temperature Lessons from the Desert Personal Thermal Management: A Cool Revolution

Sponsored by

Staying Cool in the Future

Winning the War against Heat – How to Minimize Injury and Gain Effectiveness


Gavin Cantley, Stream Defence Ltd, +44 (0)20 8933 6611, sales@streamenviro.com

Published by Global Business Media

Foreword Published by Global Business Media

Stream Defence

Global Business Media Limited 62 The Street Ashtead Surrey KT21 1AT United Kingdom


Switchboard: +44 (0)1737 850 939 Fax: +44 (0)1737 851 952 Email: info@globalbusinessmedia.org Website: www.globalbusinessmedia.org Publisher Kevin Bell Business Development Director Marie-Anne Brooks Editor Tom Cropper Senior Project Manager Steve Banks Advertising Executives Michael McCarthy Abigail Coombes Production Manager Paul Davies For further information visit: www.globalbusinessmedia.org The opinions and views expressed in the editorial content in this publication are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily represent the views of any organisation with which they may be associated. Material in advertisements and promotional features may be considered to represent the views of the advertisers and promoters. The views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily express the views of the Publishers or the Editor. While every care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, neither the Publishers nor the Editor are responsible for such opinions and views or for any inaccuracies in the articles. © 2016. The entire contents of this publication are protected by copyright. Full details are available from the Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner.

Iraq and Afghanistan Integration Evolution Future Trends

Battling the Temperature


Tom Cropper, Editor

How Needs are Changing The Pacific Pivot Fighting the Heat

Lessons from the Desert


James Butler, Staff Writer

Extreme Heat Finding Solutions Unsustainable Costs

Personal Thermal Management: A Cool Revolution


James Butler, Staff Writer

Stay Cool Systems of the Future A Truly Mobile System

Staying Cool in the Future


Tom Cropper, Editor

Building Iron Man Commercial Technologies Active Thermal Control

References 15

Cover image - HEL-STAR 6 MFF compliments of Complete Parachute Solutions WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 1


Foreword W

hen the UK army built a dive pool to

any of the weight penalty you might expect to have to

train scuba divers in Camp Bastion in

pay. It is leading the charge of new light technologies

Afghanistan, it wasn’t long before commanders

such as cooling packs and air conditioned helmets,

developed another use for it. This, they thought,

which promise to make the average soldier’s life much

was an excellent opportunity for soldiers to enjoy

more comfortable.

a welcome cool-down.

James Butler will then look at how lessons learned

Indeed, heat has been the enemy of the fighting

from deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan are driving

man for almost as long as we’ve been fighting wars.

much of this innovation. Both the UK and US armies

The difference now, though, is that the military is

were shown to be ill-prepared for the sweltering

getting the technology to do something about it.

conditions they’ve faced in the desert. The result –

Our opening article comes from Stream Defence, an established UK based engineering firm bringing

high instances of heat injury and a struggle to ensure technology becomes fit for purpose.

their expertise to the defence market. They have

We’ll also take a wider view at the ongoing battle to

developed what looks to be a major leap forward

keep soldiers cool, before taking a look into the future.

in soldier cooling systems. The ManPAC uses

The task of reducing body temperature is key to the

miniaturised air conditioning technology to circulate

development of future combat systems and we’ll see

cold air around the body. The performance claims are

where this technology is heading.

impressive and they go into detail about how it works. Later in the report, we’ll see more of this system in action. The Ministry of Defence is testing so-called fridge vests, which reduce body temperature without

Tom Cropper Editor

Tom Cropper has produced articles and reports on various aspects of global business over the past 15 years. He has also worked as a copywriter for some of the largest corporations in the world, including ING, KPMG and the World Wildlife Fund.



Winning the War against Heat – How to Minimize Injury and Gain Effectiveness Gavin Cantley, Stream Defence Ltd +44 (0)20 8933 6611, sales@streamenviro.com

Foreword Ever since Cambyses’ army marched into oblivion enroute to Siwa 2550 years ago, heat stress has been recognized as an issue for combat soldiers. Bringing it painfully close, the recent tragic loss of men in training conditions, with temperatures less extreme than found in recent theatres of conflict, has raised public awareness of the issue and focused service priorities towards control and mitigation measures. Climatic conditions, the psychological and physical stress of combat, and the need for tactical movement are realities that we cannot greatly change. The increasing use of technology in navigation, communication and weapons has added to the load while bringing enhanced capability, and this is the subject of ongoing progress to reduce weight. Yet, where we really can make a difference, and the subject of this report, is actively providing cooling to the soldier’s body when they are mounted, and ventilating passively around the body when on foot.

Ongoing initiatives to reduce the weight and bulk of armour and systems are outside the scope of this report, but it is critical that progress in this area continues and stays ahead of the imperative to increase capability.

Stream Defence

With more than 25 years experience, Stream Group are an established company working in a variety of sectors in addition to defence, including specialist applications in construction, professional marine and superyacht projects, and advanced information and communication technologies. Built on a base of experience in HVAC engineering, the company’s knowledge and expertise in thermodynamics, refrigeration, fluid movement, acoustics and digital solutions WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 3


Advances in refrigeration, control technology and the optimization of heat exchange techniques have allowed individual cooling solutions that are small, efficient and cost effective to be produced

for human environment challenges is invaluable in meeting the requirements of current military HVAC issues. The ManPAC range evolved from our early work in defence personnel cooling and has a range of products including bespoke and modified solutions for specific platforms and mission profiles.

ManPAC Advances in refrigeration, control technology and the optimization of heat exchange techniques have allowed individual cooling solutions that are small, efficient and cost effective to be produced. ManPAC design started from this simple question “…what is needed to allow the body to thermoregulate normally ?” After an extended process of research, testing of different technologies, and wide ranging discussion with frontline personnel, the design has reached its present state of development. ManPAC comprises a miniaturised refrigeration system, managed by our multi sensor control algorithm, and utilizing our CoolLayer air distribution system in a garment such as a tactical vest to achieve the objective of managing thermal stress without weight penalty, under operational conditions. It is worth noting here that cooling suits utilising a network of miniature water tubes circulating around the body are well suited to fixed applications such as aircrew, where the weight and bulk are less critical. However these do not promote and enhance the evaporation of sweat from the body to anything like such a degree as a well matched air cooled layer. Heat loss from the human body ranges from just over 100 watts in a sedentary median adult male, to over 800 watts for a stressed operative 4 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM

at peak exertion. From the many researches carried out over the years it is reasonable to characterise a typical soldier in a live environment with a mix of inactivity and strenuous exertion at an average of 400-600 watts of heat produced, and which must be mitigated if heat stress is not to become a life threatening issue. It is inevitable that diminution in mission effectiveness occurs well before the risk to life becomes critical. The cooled air controlled by ManPAC removes circa 200 watts from the torso, which is considered to be sufficient to allow normal body thermoregulation, and is consistent with the practical limitations of combat vehicles and front line operations. Because of the control system, and because the air is well distributed across the front and back of the body, it does not approach the point of causing chill injuries. It must be recognized that personnel engaged in very heavy exertion while fully dressed for battle, in the hottest environments, for longer periods of time, cannot be protected by cooling of the torso alone. Depending on personal physiology, acclimatisation, training, prevailing humidity, water ingestion and mental conditioning it may be necessary to provide cooling to the head and groin, with additional control, to manage thermal loading. For specialised use and cases with severe heat loading, larger cooling equipment and additional air movement and sensors will be required.

Iraq and Afghanistan At a tactical level, the issues of heat exhaustion are generally experienced by decision makers, and are understood and mitigated as well as conditions and equipment allow. The heat injuries that have occurred have largely fallen into


two categories, namely where mission planning failed, due to enemy action or equipment failure and personnel were therefore exposed, and secondly, where the individual’s physiology or mental determination prevented cognizance of the effects of heat stress until it was too late. From the command perspective, decisions have largely been constrained by the imperatives of strategic objectives being met, and the lack of availability of equipment to mitigate heat stress and injury. At a political level, it is interesting that the analysis of combat in Iraq (conducted while the conflict was proceeding) highlighted the fact that even some newer frontline armoured vehicles were not provided with air conditioning

systems. The House of Commons select committee (HC1241 pp36) recognized the acclimatization process, but said “we believe that the conditions they endure risk compromising their ability to carry out their duties”, and noted, interestingly, that “an alternative solution under consideration by the MoD was to provide ‘coolant packs that soldiers can wear around their body armour’”. Analysis of operations in Afghanistan is less complete as it is ongoing, and is more complex as the terrain and climate give rise to extremes of heat and cold within a short space of time and distance. The increase in threat from IEDs and shoulder fired missiles has resulted in upgraded vehicle types being deployed, with WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 5


There is a growing recognition that the sheer cost of fuel supplied to theatre for cooling purposes is unsustainable, and more efficient methods of cooling must be developed

greatly enhanced armour and typically, much better HVAC (cooling) systems. Systems have been deployed to cool a variety of forward bases in addition to larger established bases, but, at the same time, there is a growing recognition that the sheer cost of fuel supplied to theatre for cooling purposes is unsustainable, and more efficient methods of cooling must be developed.

Integration As with all vehicle systems, selection of a suitable installation location and provision of the necessary electrical supply can be challenging. It is worth noting in this context that the overall cooling load on the vehicle systems is significantly reduced, for example, when operating with hatches open. In this condition the cabin HVAC system has minimal effect; cooling provided to the body directly, supplemented by air movement through the vehicle gives a better result with less power demand. With regard to the individual soldier fit, it is not essential to integrate the air layer into existing tactical wear, as standalone CoolLayer products are available to be worn above the base layer and below any load carriage or armour system. Current developments in flexible battery technology are expected to yield weight and usability improvements, and it is possible that standardisation could allow use of the ManPAC batteries to power other smaller systems. From a tasking perspective, as the use of personal cooling increases, unit availability for missions will likely be enhanced by their capability in this respect.

Evolution The evolution of personal cooling systems is at an early stage. As noted above, adequate standard cooling systems in armoured vehicles


are a relatively recent development and the technology has not advanced enough to make a sufficiently lightweight, robust personal cooling system a reality, until now. Currently, for specialist applications such as EOD suits, systems of less than 5kg total weight, and with endurance of 30-60 minutes on one battery are available, which makes this application extremely compelling. To obtain full shift battery life at acceptable weight is currently not available, although development in the last 5 years has yielded more results than in the previous century. As discussed earlier in this report, there are several current trends that affect the prevalence of heat stress injuries. These include the following; - increasing mobility required of standing armies to react to asymmetric conflicts (lack of time to acclimatise), - the ever increasing burden of armour and equipment on the individual soldier, - technological progress towards miniaturisation of refrigeration systems and constant improvement in battery technology - use of drone and robotic systems for some tasks - soldiers are needed more than ever in exposed situations for interaction with civilian populations and finely nuanced tasks.

Future Trends Predictions for the future of armed conflict are difficult, but from history and consideration of current conflicts, it is noticeable that the vast majority are currently in hotter areas of the globe, and this trend does not appear to be reducing. Therefore, it appears probable that future soldiers will require enhanced systems to protect them from the extremes of heat in theatre, and that developments in this field will continue to be an interesting and valuable part of defence provision.


Battling the Temperature Tom Cropper, Editor

How the army can win the battle against the heat and save the lives of soldiers.


EAT IS a lethal adversary for the army and it can strike at any time. In 2013, the SAS staged a gruelling selection day in the Brecon Beacons on the hottest day of the year. Staged in mountainous terrain, it included brutal exercises including long runs wearing full battle gear and carrying weapons. Six men collapsed of heat exhaustion and were evacuated to a nearby hospital where two were pronounced dead. The headlines the next day made grim reading – ‘Marched to death’, screamed the Daily Mail1. The ongoing battle against the heat is one the army has to win. The impact of heat on troops can range from the relatively mild to the lethal. Symptoms can vary from muscular pain and headaches to something more serious such as collapse, coma and in severe instances, death – as sadly happened to those SAS recruits in the Brecon Beacons. The impact on behaviour can be almost as dangerous. As Scientific American reported2, research suggests heat can have a serious impact on our ability to make complex decisions. Reactions can be slower and behaviour changed. In the tough environment of the army, any decrease in decision-making capacity can prove lethal.

How Needs are Changing Military personnel will always be at risk of heat injuries. They work in extremely inhospitable conditions, wear heavy equipment and are highly active – all major risk factors. However, the strain is growing in a number of ways. First, soldiers are being required to wear an increasing amount of equipment. Today’s modern soldier carries on average 60% of his body weight, which is even more than a Roman Legionary. Studies have shown soldiers carrying up to 135 pounds3 of load. Taking in packs, night vision goggles, weapons, communications equipment and palm computers, the amount of gear adds up. As the army pushes to bring more technology to the battlefield, there is always a danger that the burden will increase rather than decline.

Armed forces are also being deployed all over the world. Desert warfare is certainly not going out of fashion any time soon. Deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan may have come to an end, but operations have since moved onto to Syria. NATO powers must also consider how they will engage new threats such as a resurgent Russia and an increasingly assertive China. Both have been increasing military spending over the past few years as they seek to play a more dominant role in world affairs.

The Pacific Pivot Meanwhile, the US pivot to East Asia has seen troops deployed to the South China Sea for the first time in a quarter of a century. Troops have been deployed to Australia and Singapore as part of the Obama’s strategy of rebalancing resources to the Asia Pacific Region. The Philippines are also getting five army bases at a time when they are involved in a territorial dispute with China4. In 2015, the US announced it was planning to send 300 troops and surveillance drones to Africa to assist in efforts against Boko Haram5. Both Russia and the US have been prepping forces for a combat in the Arctic. As the North Pole becomes more accessible, researchers believe it could unlock billions of barrels of oil, which means the Arctic could be the future scene of conflict between forces competing for access. Troops are operating around the world and facing every conceivable condition from extreme heat to cold. That can often come in the same regions such as the mountainous areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Finding equipment which can adjust the climate to suit different conditions is becoming increasingly urgent.

Fighting the Heat So, is the army doing enough? A 2015 report6 into the impact of heat on soldiers by the Journal of the Royal Army Corps found that, in general, heat issues were well understood by commanders who took extensive measures to prevent and deliver prompt treatment for soldiers when needed. It stated that heat exhaustion was a condition WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 7


In 2011, it emerged that the US was spending billions a year on air conditioning. Such costs are unsustainable in the long term so alternative technologies have to be found which can deliver effective cooling at a fraction of the cost

where preventable methods were far more effective than treatment – these focus on training and conditioning programmes to ensure individuals are as well prepared as possible. The better conditioned soldiers are, the less likely they are to experience issues with the heat. However, there is much more the army can do to protect soldiers from the heat: vehicles can be equipped with effective air conditioning and individual soldiers can be given an increasing array of technologies to ease the pressure. These include specially designed clothing and cooling packs which actively set out to reduce body temperature to a more comfortable range. Uptake of these technologies, though, will depend on a number of factors, not least of which is cost. Money is tight. NATO powers have struggled to fulfil their commitments to spending 2% of GDP on defence. The US has cut back significantly over the past few years both in spending and the number of troops. IHS Jane’s, in its annual forecast, has suggested spending may increase in response to threats from ISIS and Russia7, and the UK has announced plans to adhere to the 2% target and to increase spending on military equipment. Even so, for the foreseeable future, most western militaries will be operating in a constrained environment. Those constraints can have a variety of effects. They can cause the army to cut corners. The UK and US sent equipment to the desert without ensuring it was appropriate to desert conditions because they believed upgrades were too expensive. That can come back to haunt commanders as it did for


the US which sent Humvees to Iraq without any air conditioning. It can also spur innovation. Powering cooling systems for personnel, vehicles and bases can be extremely expensive. In 2011, it emerged that the US was spending billions a year on air conditioning. Such costs are unsustainable in the long term so alternative technologies have to be found which can deliver effective cooling at a fraction of the cost. Of course, cost is not the main driving force. As with everything else, the overwhelming priority is to ensure the safety of military personnel. The army is investing billions in keeping the troops cool, but such levels are unsustainable. New technologies not only promise to improve cooling solutions for the troops, but they can also go a long way towards reducing the burden of current cooling measures. Assessing their performance, therefore, requires commanders to evaluate a number of different factors: •E  xpense: The overall cost of introducing the system. •C  ost savings: Any savings from the replacement of existing systems. •P  racticality: How easy it is for soldiers to use? •E  ffectiveness: How far can it reduce body temperature? Military requirements are changing and awareness of the issue is growing. The good news for commanders is that they now have a growing arsenal of solutions at their disposal. The challenge for the manufacturers of these new solutions will be to prove that they work in the tough environment of real action.


Lessons from the Desert James Butler, Staff Writer

v After a decade and a half fighting in the desert, what have Afghanistan and Iraq taught us about controlling heat


S THE allied forces prepared for war in Afghanistan and Iraq it soon became clear that they were alarmingly ill prepared for the environments they were going to face. Vehicles struggled with the dust, sand clogged air filters, but by far the biggest issue, both for personnel and for equipment, was the heat.

Extreme Heat In the desert, temperatures can reach as high as 50°C and when that happens the effects can be lethal. In 2013, a Territorial Army soldier, Private Jason Smith from Hawick, in the Scottish borders died in extreme heat with a body temperature of 41°C. He was taken to hospital, but suffered a cardiac arrest. During the inquest, a number of other soldiers said they had felt unwell because of the heat8. A report from the Defense Statistics Branch of the UK Ministry of Defence found that 12%9 of non-battlefield injuries were down to the climate – including instances of heat exhaustion. In each of the instances noted, the injuries were considered bad enough to warrant the deployment of a trauma team, so these figures do not include more minor issues. Reviews of operations found that key military vehicles were sent to the region without simple features such as air conditioning. The result was that soldiers found themselves working in often unbearable conditions. That represents a risk to their health and also has a considerable impact on operational efficiency.

Finding Solutions The army did take steps to rectify the situation. As it modified vehicles to withstand evolving threats such as RPGs, it not only introduced more armour, but updated cooling systems. One such example was commissioned from NAR a company which normally specialised in providing radiators for classic cars. They produced radiator designs which had improved performance but were only 30% of the weight of the originals. The army took this technology and used it on vehicles such as the Scorpion CVRT which was struggling in the hot desert conditions10.

In 2003, the US army set out to install air conditioning for their Humvees. Military operations created obvious challenges for soldiers inside a vehicle. Bulletproof windows and armoured plating could make conditions inside the vehicle unbearable for soldiers. Drivers needed systems which were extremely powerful, reliable and capable of functioning in the hostile environment of the desert. Red Dot, which produced HVAC systems for commercial and heavy vehicles, were commissioned to urgently develop an HVAC system. They managed to produce a system within a week and create a prototype. This proved to be capable of lowering the temperature inside a Humvee by 30°F. Ninety days later the company entered full production and shipped more than 17,000 units. However, while this emergency fit did improve conditions inside the cab, the challenge of producing HVAC systems for the next generation of tactical vehicles is a different proposition entirely. Here, the emphasis is on something which can reduce ambient temperature throughout the entire cab rather than just spot cooling individual soldiers. A gap in the market exists and Red Dot are just one of a number of manufacturers competing to design appropriate next generation solutions. “With the MRAP vehicles, we have to bring the entire cab temperature down quickly and efficiently,” said Randy Grover sales manager of Red Dot. “You have a half dozen or so manufacturers competing for contracts to build MRAPs and M-ATVs, and each has a unique way of meeting the requirements for air conditioning.” The army also invested in cooling systems for bases and cooling packs for individual military personnel but, here again, there is a pressing need for technologies which more accurately address operational needs.

Unsustainable Costs To begin with, the costs of powering such a cooling system is unsustainable. In 2011 it was revealed that the US military spent more than $20bn on air conditioning units for their bases. To put that in perspective, that’s more than NASA’s entire budget! WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 9


Reviews of operations found that key military vehicles were sent to the region without simple features such as air conditioning. The result was that soldiers found themselves working in often unbearable conditions

With personal cooling systems, simply using cooling packs is not enough. A more sophisticated system is required to effectively bring down overall body temperature. In 2014, troops received an updated new personal cooling system designed to be worn under the battle gear. It uses the same technology found in a domestic air conditioner or refrigerator. Instead of cooling the air it cools a liquid which is then pumped around the suit and cools the body. A tiny battery can be fitted inside the body armour which provides power for the suit. The fluid travels a total of 34 metres through the tubing wrapped around the body and provides 120 watts of cooling power, which is roughly equivalent to a small fridge. Tests of the systems showed that the soldiers who wore the suits had lower body temperatures and lower heart rates than those who were simply fitted out in conventional combat gear. The search is on for equipment which is smaller, more effective and more affordable. These suits represent an evolution over and above that which has gone before because they are lighter, more 10 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM

mobile and more convenient to use. Air crews previously had cooling systems available in their aircraft, but these could be cumbersome and difficult to use. They had to plug themselves into the system in order to use them which could impede movement. The lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan are still coming in. However, the experiences of troops show the dangers of going into a combat environment ill prepared. Since then, the army has been running to keep up, placing emergency orders to add air conditioning systems to their vehicles. In the future, it has to do much better and find a way to more accurately assess and prepare for the demands of future wars. Major armies are doing just that. They each have their own future soldier programmes in development and each of these has provisions for improved cooling systems. The sector is still in its evolutionary phase and while latest developments represent a considerable step forward, there is unquestionably much more to come.


Personal Thermal Management: A Cool Revolution James Butler, Staff Writer

How new and innovative technologies are revolutionising thermal regulation in extreme environments.


EAT INJURIES have always been a problem for the army, but it’s never been easy to solve. Soldiers must operate in hot conditions, but at the same time they must wear heavy gear such as helmets, body armour, military fatigues and much more. Bomb disposal experts, meanwhile, struggle with protective equipment in the extreme heat of the desert. As one 2012 report from the Telegraph reports, IED experts often wear no protective equipment because “the heat and terrain of Helmand make this impossible11.” The challenge is to provide cooling equipment which can function with all the heavy equipment that soldiers routinely wear.

Stay Cool Solutions come in many forms. The army engages in acclimatisation exercises to help soldiers adjust to the demanding conditions they will face in the desert. They also work to identify those who are at a high risk of heat injury and ensure there is provision for prompt emergency treatment when needed. However, technology is now becoming available which can help prevent it becoming an issue in the first place. One option comes from a small company operating in the UK which provides portable air conditioning units for soldiers to wear. Developed over a period of four years, the ManPAC1 EOD circulates cooled air around the soldier’s torso and can reduce suit temperature by over 20°C, its manufacturers claim. Weighing in at only 5kg with batteries, it represents a major leap forward. For the first time, air conditioning technology is small enough and light enough to be worn without any tethering. Miles Cantley who, along with his father Gavin at Harrow-based Stream Defence, manage the programme, said: “What we are trying to achieve is that soldiers using ManPAC can think straight, shoot straight and survive in extreme conditions.”

In 2015 the first truly man portable cooling vest system was developed by Stream Technologies, a world first. This uses miniaturised air conditioning technology to produce a lightweight cooling system fitted within a small tactical vest. The solution provided to the British army weighs only 7kg with batteries included and the company believes that, in the future, it will be able to bring overall weight down even further. Air conditioning is also coming in elsewhere. In the US, scientists are developing a high tech helmet which they hope will provide builtin air conditioning. It comprises an air purifying respirator to protect against chemical attacks, while also ensuring soldiers are supplied with continuous cool fresh air circulated directly against the face. The new respirator is much lighter, cheaper to power and more comfortable to wear than conventional respirators and has so far performed well in testing. The mask is connected by a hose to a blower unit which in turn has a battery pack that the soldier wears on the hip. It ensures that soldiers breathe safe, filtered air and that they always have a ready supply of air flowing across the face – keeping them cool.

Systems of the Future Developing micro-cooling systems has been on the agenda for some time. A 2009 project entitled the Future Soldier 2030 initiative raised the idea of soldiers wearing portable power generators which could provide power for a number of functions including cooling. Soldiers would wear a multi environment microclimate conditioning pack which could offer thermal regulation both for cold and hot environments. In a region such as the desert, this could circulate cold air around the body, reducing temperature, while, in the cold it could also be used as a body heater12. Although this was shelved in 2015, the concept of a personalised cooling system remains a core piece of almost every future programme. WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 11


Stream Defence’s system is the first truly mobile product to provide much of what is promised by the future soldier 2030 concept within a light-weight package which does not hinder movement

You can see it in projects such as the US army’s own future Force Warrior Programme. This includes ideas for a microclimate conditioning system which could use a network of tubing to cool the body. This, it says, can provide 100W of cooling. In 2014 the Wall Street Journal13 reported that the US army had turned to California’s Legacy Effects which was responsible for movie designs such as The Terminator and Iron Man, to help develop future concepts. This included an Iron Man-like combat suit which included a mobile air cooling system. The army already has a range of cooling pack technologies available. These can involve tens of metres worth of tubing which can circulate liquid around the body. However, these typically require servicemen to be connected to a liquid supply, which can greatly hinder movement and operation.

A Truly Mobile System Stream Defence’s system is the first truly mobile product to provide much of what is promised by the future soldier 2030 concept within a light-weight package which does not hinder


movement. It uses air-cooled technology rather than liquid cooling to create the desired effects. Its developers recognised that they needed to do much more in terms of cooling to really provide benefits for soldiers by not only cooling the skin, but removing the sweat from the skin surface. This, they say, has enabled them to greatly enhance the cooling capacity of their units, offering 200Watts of cooling which is enough to bring body temperature down into more comfortable zones even during strenuous exercise. The new cooling vest technologies are still in relatively early stages; but it’s already possible to see how important they can be. They are smaller and more mobile, enabling soldiers to operate in the field more effectively. The ability to miniaturise air conditioning technologies into units small enough to be worn and powered by light batteries also has the potential to reduce the army’s enormous air conditioning bills. It is one of those situations when new technology coming to market will do more than deliver evolution – they will be the catalyst for a revolution in personal thermal management.


Staying Cool in the Future Tom Cropper, Editor

In the future, soldier cooling systems will be central to how army technology develops.


ONTROLLING THE body temperature of soldiers has always been difficult – the need has been there but the technology has not always offered the mobility, practicality and affordability the army needs. Now, though, times are changing. Already there are several sophisticated personal cooling systems on the market. As development moves into the future, the army is investigating new and fascinating ways in which it can battle the heat, ranging from smarter clothing to advanced, futuristic combat suits.

Building Iron Man In 2014 President Barack Obama went before the American people and announced ‘we’re building Iron Man’. It was the kind of statement every President would love to be able to make – right up there alongside President Reagan’s Star Wars programme, in which he promised to shoot Russian missiles out of the air with lasers. The question is whether Obama’s Iron Man suit will be every bit as underwhelming as Reagan’s Star Wars. The US military has been trying to manufacturer that futuristic Iron Man suit for some time. As far back as 1985, General Paul Gorman produced a paper in which he described an ‘integrated powered exoskeleton’ that could transform the weakling of the battlefield (the soldier) into a super human. In 2007, the Pentagon announced it was making highly advanced suits which could give their soldiers superhuman power. Using nanotechnology, they would develop extremely strong but light materials to create a suit which could stop bullets and increase strength ten-fold. This futuristic suit would include a cooling system and pipe liquid around the body to cool the torso and keep soldiers in good health – even in the hottest conditions. Today the army has the Tactical Light Operation Suit (TALOS) designed to increase the strength, mobility and agility of the soldier. Early blueprints intended to provide ballistic protection, 3D audio, sensors, computers and life-saving oxygen and haemorrhage controls – as well as a full heating and cooling system featuring its own built-in air conditioning. The suit could also

be improved with an embedded chip which contains each soldier’s personalised physiology. Other countries have their own versions. In the UK, the Future Soldier Vision of the soldier in 2025 aims to encircle soldiers with a range of cutting-edge equipment. Among the features is a self-contained power supply, sensory augmentation and an integrated protection system and smart wearables which can record things such as a soldier’s biometric data, so if body temperatures rise, or individuals start to experience heat stress, action can be taken earlier14.

Commercial Technologies Possibilities also exist by taking technology from the commercial world and deploying it into the military. In Japan, for example, one company has developed an air conditioned jacket15. It has two small fans built into the back which waft cool air around the body. Elsewhere, scientists are looking into so-called ‘smart materials’ which can aid cooling. The University of California is pioneering a project called Adaptive Textiles Technologies with Adaptive Cooling and Heating (ATTACH). The fabric is designed to react to the environment in order to keep the wearer’s skin temperature within an optimum range. When temperatures drop the fabric becomes thicker providing more insulation; when temperatures rise the fabric becomes slightly thinner maintaining ideal skin temperatures. “It’s like having a personalised air conditioner and heater,” says Renkun Chen, Professor or Mechanical and Aerospace engineering at the University of Dan Diego16. Technologies such as these have the potential to be remodelled and designed for use in the military, with new smarter fabrics capable of delivering a range of technological enhancements for personnel. Many of these can incorporate the exciting world of nanotechnology. A study into the potential uses of nanotechnology suggested that ‘intelligent apparel systems’ could include nano-size built-in heating and cooling systems: “New heat storage and thermo-regulated fabrics are developed using micro-encapsulated spun composite fibres.” Special textiles are WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 13


Some of the biggest advances in recent years have come in active thermal control. These are systems which actively set out to reduce body temperature through means such as liquid cooling pumped around the body and air conditioning

being developed which passively cool the body by removing sweat from the skin and aiding the evaporation of perspiration.

Active Thermal Control Some of the biggest advances in recent years have come in active thermal control. These are systems which actively set out to reduce body temperature through means such as liquid cooling pumped around the body and air conditioning. These have been made possible thanks to the miniaturisation of air conditioning technology over the past few years. This is enabling manufacturers to develop light, portable cooling systems which soldiers can wear as part of their kit. Power packs have become much lighter providing batteries which weigh only a few ounces. Even so, these units need considerable amounts of power. Maintaining long operation life in the field is a challenge. The USA’s Institute of Environment Medicine is exploring ways in which measuring skin temperature can be used to regulate the activation of cooling systems. Their goal is a system which can monitor skin temperature and turn systems off and on so that they only use as much or as little power as needed.


The future is bright for companies working in cooling industries. In the USA the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the years between 2010 and 2020 will witness a 34% increase in the number of jobs available for HVAC17. The army has requirements in innovation across the board – in military vehicle air conditioning systems, in personal soldier cooling, and in more affordable air conditioning for bases. There is a huge amount of innovation taking place, particularly among small and medium sized companies, and start-ups. These have the imagination to develop a new concept, but they do require help. The military continuously invests in new technologies and that often means supporting the companies developing the next generation of technologies. These have plenty of talent and capabilities, but they may lack size and financial security. Some of these technologies are in extremely early stages and the chances are they will need careful nurturing. The army is facing two ways. On the one hand it has technologies which are more or less ready to go now. But on the other, there are a host of new systems in development – not all of which will prove practical. In looking to the future it has to provide support for development and evaluate which systems offer the best value.


References: Soldiers Marched to Death: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2362942/Soldiers-marched-death-Tragedy-territorial-Army-men-collapsed-searing-heat-tried-SAS.html



Winter Wakes up Your Mind: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/warm-weather-makes-it-hard-think-straight/


What the Fighter of the Future Will Look Like: http://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2015/07/what-fighter-future-will-look/117619/


US is Set to Deploy Troops to Philippines: http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-set-to-deploy-troops-to-philippines-in-rebalancing-act-1458466797

US Troops Deployed to Cameroon: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/10/usa-troops-deployed-cameroon-boko-haram-fight-151014212428195.html



Risk Factors of Heat Illness: http://jramc.bmj.com/content/early/2015/06/05/jramc-2015-000427.full

Growing Security Fears Boost Budgets: http://press.ihs.com/press-release/aerospace-defense-security/growing-security-fears-boost-defence-budgets-ihs-says


Territorial Army Soldier Died of Heat Stroke: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2430067/TA-soldier-Jason-Smith-died-heatstroke-Iraq-50C-heat.html



Afghan War Injury Statistics: https://www.rt.com/uk/333768-afghan-war-injury-statistics/

Advanced Cooling Solutions: http://www.militarysystems-tech.com/articles/advanced-cooling-solutions-improves-performance-and-reliability-military-combat-vehicles 10


In the Line of Fire: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/9086839/In-the-line-of-fire-Afghanistans-IED-experts.html


Future Soldier 2030 Initiative: http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/dangerroom/2009/05/dplus2009_11641-1.pdf


US Military Turns to Hollywood: http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-military-turns-to-hollywood-to-outfit-the-soldier-of-the-future-1404527893


New Futuristic Personal Equipment: http://www.army.mod.uk/news/27984.aspx

Sport a Cool Look: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2016513/Japanese-company-creates-air-conditioned-jacket-Kuchofukus-cool-look.html 15



Engineers win Grant to Make Smart Clothes: http://jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/news/news_releases/release.sfe?id=1753 Why Become an HVAC Technician? http://www.troopstotrades.org/for-veterans/about-the-trades/technical-trades/hvac/


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Defence Industry Reports – Next Generation Soldier Cooling Solutions for Modern Military Operations  

Defence Industry Reports – Next Generation Soldier Cooling Solutions for Modern Military Operations – Stream Defence

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Defence Industry Reports – Next Generation Soldier Cooling Solutions for Modern Military Operations – Stream Defence

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