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U.S. Army Soldier & Biological Chemical Command
U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick
Public Affairs Office
Kansas Street
Natick, MA 01760-5012

Contact: Chief, Public Affairs Office
(508) 233-5340
amssb-opa@natick.army.mil

Date: January 23, 2001
No: 01-05

Next Generation Mask

NATICK, Mass. -- The Joint Service General Purpose Mask (JSGPM) will be the military's next generation chemical and biological protective respirator, replacing the Air Force and Navy MCU-2A/P series mask and the Army and Marine Corps M-40 series mask.

An Army-led program, the project taps into the U.S. Army Soldier and Biological Chemical Command's more than 50 years of experience in mask and soldier equipment development. Project Manager for Nuclear Biological Chemical Defense Systems has partnered with Avon Rubber and Plastics, Inc. of Cadillac, Mich., Project Manager-Soldier Systems, Natick Soldier Center and Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center for the mask program.

Improved performance against chemical and biological agents, toxic industrial materials and nuclear fallout; improved field of vision and equipment compatibility; reduced weight and bulk, and significantly reduced breathing resistance are program goals.

"The joint-service management sought to make the mask more comfortable," said Col. Stephen Reeves, project manager for Nuclear Biological Chemical Defense Systems. "It's lighter than the current M-40 or MCU-2/P masks and easier to see through than previous masks."

Some previous masks had binocular eyepieces, but the joint service mask has a single eyepiece, according to Reeves. "This gives the servicemember much greater field of view," Reeves said. "We're testing this vision piece to ensure it will interface with night vision equipment, any weapon-sighting systems, as well as individual weapons."

He said the filter technology is perhaps the largest and most radical change. "One objective is to reduce breathing resistance by half," he said. "This means it won't be so tiring to use because it will take less work to breathe."

Filter designers, Avon and its subcontractor, Guild Associates, are looking at several different filter media, a radical departure from the traditional filter bed.

The ability to make a smaller canister and shape it in different configurations to fully integrate it into the mask helps with increasing the field of view and improving the equipment compatibility.

Extra features of the mask are color-coded repair parts for easy identification, a filter shelf-life indicator, the ability to safely and quickly change filters while in a contaminated environment, and an improved drinking system for easier use and greater flow of liquids.

The new mask is fully integrated into the warfighter's combat ensemble for the next generation. The mask was tested with the current Land Warrior system at the Human Engineering Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

A unique and innovative modeling and simulation test fixture was developed that allowed more realistic form, fit, and function of the mask during evaluations using live agents, ensuring maximum real-world protection.

All maintenance will be taken care of at the operator and unit level with limited repair using replacement parts. The repair parts will be reduced from about 36 for the current mask to 12. Total ownership costs will be cut by at least 50 percent.

The development team is attempting to do whatever is necessary to ensure that the mask will satisfy servicemembers.

"Keeping the lines of communication open between product developers and those who will ultimately use the mask is paramount," said Capt. Matt Seipt, project officer for the Marine Corps. "The JSGPM team is exactly that-a team- and to that end I am confident the final result of this program will truly be a mask that satisfies, and even goes beyond, service expectations."

The mask is scheduled for fielding beginning in 2006. For more information about the U.S. Army Soldier and Biological Chemical Command, please visit our website at http://www.sbccom.army.mil.

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