Posted by John McHale
WASHINGTON, 28 Oct. 2010. Cobham Life Support's Microclimate Thermal System (MTS), based on its microclimate cooling system combines heating and cooling into one unit. The MTS is designed to imropve the endurance of warfighters by maintain safe core body temperature, critical in environments such as Afghanistan, where temperatures can shift dramatically in a matter of hours, especially when troops are operating in high elevations, company officials say.
Cobham showcased the MTS at the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) annual meeting in Washington this week.
MTS flies on the Blackhawk and Apache helicopter platforms as well as ground vehicles such as the Stryker and Abrams tank, says Mike Gearhart, government business development manager, Cobham Life Support.
During human factors studies at the Army Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Mass., Army researchers determined that when warfighters are operating in very hot conditions -- whether in a vehicle or helicopter -- they have about a two-hour attention span, after that they lose focus, Gearhart continues. With the Microclimate system they can function at a high level for about five hours, he adds.
Gearhart says Cobham is working on smaller version that will be used for wearable applications. Currently the MTS is used only by military systems, but if the technology evolves and there is a demand for it, Cobham may look at marketing it toward commercial applications, he adds.
Cobham has fielded more than 18,000 microclimate cooling systems to the U.S. Army and Marine Corps for use on a variety of combat and tactical vehicles as well as rotary wing aircraft. These already fielded systems can be upgraded to include the new heating feature with modifications to the existing cooling unit. The upgrade is compatible with the current mounting tray, umbilical, vest, control by-pass assembly and power cable.
"We evolve our product line as the needs of the troops evolve," says Kelly Coffield, spokesperson for Cobham Life Support in Orchard Park, N.Y. "In this case Cobham has added warming technology to our cooling vest, to make it suitable for the terrain our forces are deployed to. We've also made it cost-effective and easy by using existing hardware, so the current units can simply be upgraded."