Tent innovations help protect U.S. soldiers in the field.
With U.S. soldiers in harm’s way, efforts are ongoing to make their tented living quarters as safe as possible. One program is designing tent panels that can withstand mortar blasts; a second is insulating tents with a spray-on foam, thereby reducing fuel needs, which in turn reduces the number of dangerous fuel convoys.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded $2.5 million to the Advanced Engineered Wood Composite Center at the University of Maine to continue its development of a panel designed for use in tents and other portable structures, according to the Maine Campus newspaper.
The Modular Ballistic Protection System (MBPS) panels act as a lightweight, easily deployed liner for large tents. In tests the system has withstood blasts from 75 feet, 33 feet, and 21 feet with no failures in the structure, anchoring or the panels themselves. The panels have a wood core and multiple layers of fiber and resin around the core. They can be assembled by just a few soldiers without tools, are ultraviolet and scratch-resistant, and are completely recyclable.
While prototypes are already in use in Iraq and Afghanistan, center director Habib Dahger hopes that the system is close to large-scale manufacture and deployment.
The Rapid Equipping Force, a 5-year-old Army think tank, has partnered with Glencoe Insulation and Roofing of Oklahoma to spray foam insulation on 81 tents and several gyms in Iraq at a cost of $2.6 million. While the insulation provides a more comfortable living environment, the true life-saving result is in reducing the need for fuel convoys that are exposed to roadside bombs. Dan Nolan, REF chief of the power task force, told the Los Angeles Times that insulating tents can cut a base’s fuel use by 40 percent.