NATICK, Mass. – The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center, or DEVCOM SC, has designed the Cold Temperature and Arctic Protection System, or CTAPS, which features several improvements over the existing Extended Cold Weather Clothing System, or ECWCS.
“CTAPS leverages state-of-the-art textiles and design features to optimize the warfighter's environmental protection, moisture management, comfort, and lethality,” said James Murdock, CTAPS project officer at DEVCOM SC. “It is a holistically integrated cold weather clothing system that addresses many capability gaps of the current ECWCS system.”
CTAPS features a base layer, insulated jacket, softshell uniform, cold/wet jacket and trouser, and an extreme-cold parka and trouser. The system design improves Soldier mobility — enhancing Soldier performance.
The expertise of, and the collaboration among, DEVCOM SC engineers and designers, as well as their partner, Product Manager Soldier Clothing & Individual Equipment (PM SCIE), contributed to the system that will directly benefit the warfighter. As the result of a Direct Requirement, the CTAPS program’s scheduled transition to PM SCIE, via a Technology Transition Agreement, has been accelerated by two years to FY23.
“Compared to the current system, CTAPS leverages state-of-the-art materials that offer better environmental protection, moisture management, durability, comfort, and features a fully integrated design between the five layers,” said Murdock. “Design features include venting capabilities, pass-thru pockets between layers, adjustability features, and expansion gussets for use with body armor and load carriage systems.”
Ashley Cushon and Chong Whitfield — who are members of DEVCOM SC’s Soldier Protection Directorate’s Design, Pattern, and Prototype Team — designed the CTAPS ensemble, a project originally led by project officer Kate Young.
“Soldier input has been used to inform the CTAPS program since its inception in 2016,” said Murdock. “Kate Young, the original CTAPS project officer, performed many focus groups and Soldier surveys to address the capability gaps in the current ECWCS system. Soldier feedback was received throughout the entire prototyping process, and we have since performed Limited User Evaluations, or LUEs, with over 350 Soldiers and Airmen to help develop and refine the system.”
Soldier feedback continues to drive the design of CTAPS.
Murdock acknowledged that the favorite part of his job is having “the opportunity to work directly with Soldiers at the ground level, listening to their needs and ideas, and being able to quickly turn around and provide a solution that meets their needs.”
Murdock also acknowledged the importance of the work done by the Soldier Support and Program Integration Team, or SS&PIT, including Adam Adams, who acted as a CTAPS “ambassador” to U.S. Army Alaska (USARAK) 11Th Airborne Division. The team, along with Shivaun Pacitto of DEVCOM SC’s Consumer Research Team, gathered all-important Soldier input regarding the system.
“The Alaskan Warfighters we work with must operate in the most austere conditions – temperatures can get down to (-70 F), 50 MPH gusts, and very minimal daylight during the most extreme parts of Winter,” said Murdock. “They deserve the best equipment possible, and that's what we believe we are delivering with this new prototype system.”
About DEVCOM Soldier Center: The DEVCOM Soldier Center is committed to discovering, developing, and advancing science and technology solutions that ensure America’s warfighters are optimized, protected, and lethal. DEVCOM Soldier Center supports all the Army's Modernization efforts, with the Soldier Lethality and Synthetic Training Environment Cross Functional Teams being the DEVCOM Soldier Center’s chief areas of focus. The center’s science and engineering expertise are combined with collaborations with industry, DOD, and academia to advance Soldier and squad performance. The center supports the Army as it transforms from being adaptive to driving innovation to support a Multi-Domain Operations Capable Force of 2028 and a MDO Ready Force of 2035. DEVCOM Soldier Center is constantly working to strengthen Soldiers’ performance to increase readiness and support for warfighters who are organized, trained, and equipped for prompt and sustainable ground combat.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) outreach and mentoring the next generation of scientists and engineers are also an important part of the mission of DEVCOM Soldier Center. The mentoring of students by Army scientists and engineers benefits the students and their communities. It also increases young people's awareness of potential Army job opportunities and helps provide the Army with potential new talent, helping to fuel innovative ideas that benefit the nation's warfighters and the nation as a whole.
DEVCOM Soldier Center is part of DEVCOM. Through collaboration across the command's core technical competencies, DEVCOM leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our nation's wars and come home safely. DEVCOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.