Trials of the M53 protective mask, to determine if it will be affected by a new, general purpose decontaminant, were completed June 30 at Dugway Proving Ground.
Test personnel are now processing data, generating charts and graphs and writing a final report on the M53, which is a variant of the standard issue M50 but designed for Special Operations personnel.
“It usually takes a month to get all the data compiled, and another month to write the report,” said Project Scientist Dave Rose. When completed, the report will go to the Department of Defense for review, to decide whether the M53 may be used in the presence of the Joint General Purpose Decontaminant for Hardened Military Equipment (JGPD-HME).
The decontaminant is designed for vehicles, ship surfaces and weapons contaminated by chemical or biological agent. The current issue M50 mask was tested with the JGPD-HME decontaminate, Rose said, but the M53 required testing because it is a different configuration. It has a larger viewing area, employs a powered air purifying respirator and differs otherwise from the parent M50.
In testing at DPG, each mask was sprayed with JGPD-HME decontaminant and given a 30-minute “weathering” period. Then, the masks were contaminated with HD “mustard gas” to determine whether protection to the wearer was affected. This replicated the mask being splashed or sprayed with JGPD-HME during decontamination operations.
M53 masks were also challenged with the new decontaminant in temperatures and humidity that replicated a wide range of operating environments. If it is found that JGPD-HME does not affect the M53, it may be approved for widespread issue to Special Operations personnel. No other variations of the M50 are coming to DPG for testing, Rose said.
The JGPD-HME project is managed by the Joint Project Manager Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear for Protection (JPM CBRN P), and is executed by the Decontamination Family of Systems (DFoS) Product Office (PO). Both are headquartered in Stafford, Virginia.