A new facility to test combat clothing will help to provide enhanced protection for Australian soldiers, the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Warren Snowdon announced today.
Mr Snowdon opened a new $4 million environment test facility at the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) in Melbourne.
"Our servicemen and women deserve the best possible protection and this facility will enable scientists to develop protective clothing suitable for a range of hazardous and toxic environments," Mr Snowdon said.
"This state-of-the-art facility can simulate any natural environmental condition that ADF personnel are likely to encounter between -20o to +50o Celsius."
DSTO researchers will use the multi-purpose environment simulation facility to assess the performance and function of ADF clothing including existing uniforms, developmental materials, and new design options.
They will also be able to assess the limits of human physiological performance in climatic extremes.
A key feature of the facility is a full-size, articulated mannequin that mimics human movement, enabling scientists to make objective, full system assessments rather than relying on the claims of manufacturers.
"This is a major improvement on the existing system of testing which used small swatch samples cut from uniforms or rolls of cloth," Mr Snowdon said. "The fully kitted-out, moving mannequin will substitute as a virtual soldier and allow the entire ensemble to be evaluated in a holistic way."
"This new facility significantly enhances DSTO's support to the ADF's integrated force protection capability and will help to refine the design of combat clothing, so it offers more comfort, protection and integrates better with other combat equipment," he said.
Mr Snowdon thanked local industries for their work in the design and manufacture of the facility.
Heuch Pty Ltd of Victoria won the tender for the design and construction of the temperature-controlled chamber which was built by Nicro Engineering of Geelong. Melbourne firm Hooker Cockram was responsible for construction of the building housing the facility.
"This is surely testament to Australian industry's ability to deliver projects that directly benefit Defence capabilities and I would encourage other local companies to consider future opportunities working alongside Defence," Mr Snowdon said.
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