SSC-Natick Press ReleaseU.S. Army Soldier Systems
Public Affairs Office
Contact: Public Affairs
Date: December 27, 2007
Combat feeding gets it just right with field feeding system
Personnel at the
U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering
Center's Combat Feeding Directorate are working to modernize the
Air Force's Basic Expeditionary Airfield Resources (BEAR) field
feeding system. In this photo, Airmen try out some of the
modular food service equipment that is being evaluated as part
of the BEAR modernization program. (Courtesy photo)|
Click for Larger Photo
NATICK, Mass. --
Working in the DoD Combat Feeding Directorate (CFD) at the U.S. Army
Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center can have
you working with BEARs. The personnel in CFD are working to
modernize the Air Force’s Basic Expeditionary Airfield Resources
(BEAR) field feeding system.
“The Air Force is currently using an array of field kitchens and
assorted equipment,” said John Ebert, equipment specialist, “many of
which are still fuel-fired. The Air Force made a determination that
they wanted to go to all electric and this program helps standardize
the equipment to get them to that point.”
Going all electric has two main benefits. First, it improves safety
by eliminating the need for fuel-fired items and it also helps with
training. Most Airmen are trained on an electric kitchen and if they
operate a fuel-fired kitchen in the field, then they have a learning
curve to get up to speed on that kitchen.
The BEAR modernization program consists of two segments, said Ebert.
The first is the BEAR-550 (Initial) or BEAR-550i. The BEAR-550i
includes a new shelter system, portable flooring and modular food
service equipment. The system is designed to feed Airmen in
implements of 550 personnel and the kitchen can be fully assembled
in less than four hours by a team of five personnel. In addition to
the kitchen, the BEAR-550i includes 800 square feet of attached
dining area which can accommodate the feeding of 550 Airmen for a
sit down meal in a two hour period. With the addition of BEAR-550
(Follow-ons) or BEAR-550fs, the kitchen system can be expanded to
feed up to 3300 personnel.
It is important for the BEAR to get up and running as quickly as
possible because the Air Force requirement is that by day 10 in the
field, hot meals are to be provided by Unitized Group Ration (UGR)-As
and A-Rations, which include both fresh and perishable food items.
The Air Force identified a mobile shelter system that can support
the implementation and buildup of the BEAR kitchen and dining
facility. After extensive market research, testing, and evaluation,
the Compact All-Weather Mobile Shelter Systems, CAMSS20EX, was
selected. The CAMSS20EX was designed by the CAMSS Shelters Company
as a replacement shelter for the TEMPER tent that is currently being
used to support the BEAR kitchen and dining facility.
In addition, a new lightweight portable flooring system was
evaluated by both CFD and Air Force combat training sites. This new
floor system, called UltraDeck, replaces the current flooring system
that consists of plywood sheets and lumber. Construction time in the
field and weight and space during transportation will be reduced by
having this new flooring.
An evaluation of all the food service equipment currently being used
by the Air Force was also conducted. Standardization, construction
and maintenance issues with each piece of equipment were looked at.
The idea is to have food service equipment that will be robust, easy
to maintain and clean, and save labor in the field.
“We followed the example of the personnel at CFD who work on Navy
programs,” said Ebert. “Where they evaluate the food service
equipment for shipboard use, we evaluated it for field use.”
Some of the items evaluated included: portable hot and cold food
serving counters, stainless steel tilt grills that are easy to
clean, and stainless steel grills that maintain a uniform cooking
temperature and are able to reduce cooking time by 40 percent.
A boilerless combi steam oven is one of the most innovative pieces
of equipment that will be included with the BEAR. This oven can
cook, proof bakery products, bake, steam, roast and grill, is simple
to operate, and also self-cleans.
We wanted not just to do a consolidation of current BEAR kitchen
assets, but to replace items with current state-of-the-art
technology for the future BEAR system, Ebert said.
As part of the first phase of the program, a prototype of the new
BEAR-550i was constructed at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. The Air
Force Red Horse Combat Training Squadron at Tyndall trains more than
10,000 personnel per year and was able to put the prototype
BEAR-550i through its paces.
According to Ebert, the evaluation of the prototype and kitchen
equipment has gone extremely well. Having direct feedback and input
from the user was very helpful in determining how things worked and
what needed improvements, he said. We got confirmation of some
things that we thought would work, such as having a shelter opening
large enough for a forklift to drive through or having modular items
that you can even take outside to clean.
As of June 2007, the first phase of the BEAR program has been
reached with a fully operational BEARi. Additionally, one of the
goals for the entire BEAR program has also already been
accomplished. That goal was to make the BEAR leaner and lighter than
previous Air Force kitchens.
“The system is currently working great,” Ebert said. “We have
reduced the amount of pallets needed to ship the system, and having
standardized items will not only assist with training, but with
maintenance and repair parts as well.”
The modular equipment really helps with this, he continued. Being
able to fold up the legs on a counter not only helps with being able
to easily move it around in your kitchen or dining hall, but it also
reduces the amount of storage and transportation you need.
As part of phase two, a second prototype of the BEAR-550i is being
constructed at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga. Ebert said that the
advantages of having the two sites are simple; the more feedback
from users, the better the final product.
This second phase will include looking at additional equipment, such
as mixers, combi ovens and a pressure-less steamer, items that could
be enhancements for a field kitchen. We will also begin the
integration of the BEAR-550f with the BEAR-550i at Dobbins to ensure
that both the BEAR-550i and 550f systems integrate and work
“The BEAR field feeding system enhances the quality of life for
Airmen,” said Ebert. “The Air Force is behind the program 100