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1 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Swatchtest
Swatch testing with the AVLAG has been conducted for some years at Dugway Proving Ground, as evidenced by this 2005 photo. It's still an accurate means of testing swatches, but innovative SPITFIRE system improvements make it easier to work... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army)
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2 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A swatch of cloth is loaded into the cup of the AVLAG, requiring two O-rings to keep it sealed and chemical agent from leaking. Assembling the many parts while wearing gloves can be challenging. The innovative SPITFIRE system created by Dugway Provin... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
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3 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The testing unit for the AVLAG system requires time and labor to assemble, whereas the innovative SPITFIRE system uses clamps to keep its parts together. Much time is saved at Dugway Proving Ground, and data accuracy is improved.
Photo by Al Vogel, D... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army)
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4 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The Swatch Permeation Test Fixture, Reengineered (SPITFIRE) employs clamps to keep the components under pressure and together, instead of bolts. The newly created system challenges swatches of cloth with chemical warfare agent inside the stainless st... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
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5 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Aaron Rogers, project scientist at Dugway Proving Ground's West Desert Test Center, visually checks the controls that regulate how much chemical wafare agent challenges each swatch in the Swatch Permeation Test Fixture, Reengineered.
In the next room... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army)
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6 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Swatch testing with the AVLAG has been conducted for some years at Dugway Proving Ground, as evidenced by this 2005 photo. It's still an accurate means of testing swatches, but innovative SPITFIRE system improvements make it easier to work with.
Phot... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army)
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After trials, SPITFIRE'S first customer test began Aug. 1 and will continue into September, as various swatches from seven different commercial, off-the-shelf containment bags are tested for the U.S. Navy (Dugway frequently tests chem/bio defenses for all services). Each sample swatch must safely contain a liquid chemical agent for 14 days.

Tested bags range from a letter-sized evidence bag to an adult-sized bag for human remains. The Navy seeks a range of bags for its Explosive Ordnance Disposal personnel, to transport contaminated samples from the battlefield.

Both SPITFIRE and its predecessor AVLAG (Aerosol Vapor Liquid Assessment Group) are challenging swatches for the Navy test. Though AVLAG is more laborious to work with, it's still operable.

"We do a lot of swatch testing, so having multiple swatch fixture is advantageous to us," said Aaron Rogers, project scientist.

But overall, SPITFIRE has more advantages than AVLAG and may someday replace it. SPITFIRE is designed to be used in a wheeled glovebox with attached airlock, making it portable and easier for an agent handler to use. AVLAG is immovable, used in a wall-mounted hood, and requires more dexterity.

SPITFIRE's components are held together with the tension of a clamp; AVLAG uses multiple bolts and components. Each AVLAG unit is designed for a certain swatch thickness, while SPITFIRE can accommodate a variety of material thicknesses, ensuring a tight seal that prevents swatches from getting wrinkled or creased.

"It means more reliable data, because of tighter cup-to-cup variability than AVLAG," said Rogers.

SPITFIRE has very precise control over humidity, and its temperature control is more accurate than AVLAG. SPITFIRE is easier for the agent handler to use, a metal cup that holds the swatch may be switched out while the other cups continue testing. With AVLAG, testing with all cups must be temporarily halted during a single change-out.

The list of SPITFIRE advantages over AVLAG goes on.

"The main thing was to design this for ease of operation, safety in operation and much higher quality data," Rogers said. "For our agent handlers, it's much safer."

For the ultimate customer -- The Warfighter -- swatch testing means the Warfighter can trust his protective clothing to defend against chemical agent as expected.

"It enables the Warfighter to make better decisions on the battlefield and to ensure the Armed Forces have the best quality materials for the Warfighters," Rogers said.

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