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arctic survival

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Arctic Spark Innovation Lab Takes Steps in Upgrading Cold Weather Gear

  • Published March 2, 2023
  • By Airman 1st Class Quatasia Carter
  • JBER Public Affairs


History shows innovation and creative solutions win wars, save time, lives and money.

This statement may be true , but in the case of what you will be reading it simply does apply.

The Arctic Spark Innovation Lab is currently working on several innovative projects, one of which is finding solutions to upgrade the Air Force’s seven-layer arctic gear.

I tried researching what that is. It is not clear if the upgrade is for pilots or ground forces. In either case they have nothing.

“We contacted NASA, other clothing manufacturers and had a company put together something with the most insulative material known to man called ‘aerogel,’” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Shawn Mcdermott, 176th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and Arctic Spark volunteer. “We had an aerogel put into a fabric to attempt to create the best insulation so we are making a flight suit out of those materials right now, which is going to be new, and we started it here on the ground level.”

Here we go again with the Air Force hanging their hat on a on a product that has no history of performing in any product made that has performed even remotely close to existing products used in clothing used by the Air Force.

We now know what they are working on is for flight suits. I would like to know how they put the “aerogel” into a fabric. In doing so they are “attempting” to “create the best insulation”. This is a non-sensical statement. Shawn Mcdermott [SM] has less knowledge about insulation that would fill a gnat’s rectum. It is impossible to put these tiny pieces of silica which is what aerogel is formed from into a fabric that make the fabric into an insulation. Remember this guy SM states it is an “attempt to create the best insulation”. And to think this is one aera we are investing out tax dollars, what a joke. I do not know what it takes to rise to a SR Airman but I do know what it takes to learn about insulation.

New yes, started at ground level yes, accomplished nothing.

The Department of Defense often works with mission partners to develop new technology and solutions to aid mission effectiveness.

This is true but it does not apply to this program. No solution here.

NASA provided different sample materials for the Spark lab to test and compare to the currently issued arctic gear. NASA describes aerogel as one of the finest insulation materials available because they are extremely porous and the pores are in the nanometer range.’

The NASA people making this statement are clueless about insulation.

“These samples of insulation are fire retardant,” said Mcdermott. “I even tried to burn the material to call them out on it.”

Big deal, he should view my video about burning a sleeping bag. this is the same insulation “LAMILITE” that I pared with Nomex for oil field workers in the Alaskan oil field of Prudhoe By.

Each fabric sample provided by NASA varies in texture and thicknesses; despite the change in consistency, the material stays similarly weightless and agile.

Without thickness and density, you do not have an insulating material and what they received from NASA is not an insulating material.

Arctic Spark started this year with the strategic request to have Airmen test the Army’s Cold Temperature and Arctic Protection System, or CTAPS five-layer. Part of Spark’s solution process is finding out what already works and what doesn’t.

I reviewed the CTAPS multi layered system. I fail to understand how they can claim it will perform in arctic conditions. During the past 36 years I have had the opportunity to dress if you will hundreds of people going to or living in the arctic region of Alaska and what I provided will easily outperform this system.

“We developed the testing criteria with the Army because they already had a testing system with surveys and all of this stuff prepared to do this test,” said Mcdermott. “Now we're going to have comparable data on their gear, and when we start introducing our gear with the other materials we've made, we'll have even more data to put it up against.”

All of the “data” that SM accumulates will not keep anyone warm.

In an inclusive strategized rotation, Spark distributed CTAPS gear to selected Airmen in Squadrons that work daily in the arctic cold over the course of several weeks to gather as much information as possible from each layer. The data will ultimately be used to design a more insulated and resilient arctic flight suit.

If SM wants to make a better insulated flight all he has to do is incorporate LAMILITE insulation in the existing flight and mission will be accomplished!!! SIMPLICITY, IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

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