The U.S. Army is seeking proposals to improve the Integrated Respiratory and Eye Protective Scarf (IREPS) System to address incompatibilities with facial hair and CBRN protective gear.

Select warfighter groups must blend in with indigenous populations to be as inconspicuous as possible. As such, beard growth is commonplace among deployed military personnel due to the regions of recent conflicts.

The negative impact of facial hair on respirator performance is well known. To further exacerbate the challenges of protecting bearded warfighters from particulate matter, as well as chemical and biological (CB) threats, many of the head borne components considered to be mission essential for select warfighters (e.g., protective eyewear and communication headsets) do not integrate well with traditional full-facepiece airpurifying respirators.

A proof of concept for an initial IREPS for respiratory protection and compatibility with head borne devices has been demonstrated. However, a synergistic protective eyewear component was not achieved.

This effort aims to develop a complete respiratory and eye protective scarf system that incorporates unique design features to offer users with or without facial hair protection against nuisance particulate matter, riot control agents, and limited low-level chemical vapor threats.

The approach will include fabrication of system prototypes that demonstrate acceptable respiratory and eye protective performance and head borne equipment compatibility through operational performance assessments.

Mature technology solutions are desired that can satisfy this requirement for $1 million or less. The requirement is part of this year’s Department of Defense Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF) approved topics. The RIF is designed to quickly transition innovative technologies that resolve operational challenges into acquisition programs.

Further details are available via Solicitation Number: HQ0034-16-BAA-RIF-0001B, Requirement Number: ARMY51-RDECOM08. The response deadline is May 03, 2016.

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