Everyone has to get new clothes every once in a while, and the Army’s explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) technicians — the men and women who defuse bombs for a living — may soon be getting a new bomb suit that’s more protective, more flexible and has better sensors than the one they’ve been using for nearly 20 years.
The Next Generation Advanced Bomb Suit is currently being tested by EOD soldiers from the 184th Ordnance Battalion (EOD) at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The new suits are supposed to have greater range of motion, a better center of gravity and be lighter weight than the old suits, according to an Army news release. The helmet is also supposed to be more stable and comfortable, with better air flow and built-in lighting capabilities.
“The NGABS provides greater comfort and mobility for EOD personnel when mitigating explosive threats,” said Staff Sgt. Gregory Meckel, one of the testing participants. A veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq, Meckel said the new suit was an improvement over the old one, the Advanced Bomb Suit, which the Army has used since 2002.
The ABS was used regularly during the Global War on Terror, and EOD techs came to rely on the suit while defusing countless improvised explosive devices buried alongside roads and in cars throughout Iraq and Afghanistan, where they threatened civilians and coalition troops. The suits are highly specialized, because protecting soldiers against a “blast event” like a bomb going off in your face is not the same as protecting against a bullet, Rob Reynolds, vice president of explosive ordnance disposal at counterterrorism technology company Allen Vanguard, told the Association of the U.S. Army in 2013.
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