It’s true, the ‘Dark Side’ always seems to have the better equipment over their ‘Rebel Scum’ adversaries and just looks better to boot. It looks like the US Army is taking a page strait out of the ‘Empire’s’ handbook with a new CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiation and Nuclear) filed mask for soldiers deployed in combat theaters. Essentially, turning them into those faceless bad guys we kill in first person shooters.

Current soldiers are still being issued the M40 Field Protective Mask or the slightly updated MCU-2/P (Navy/Air Force version), which protect against 15 nerve, choking and blister agents as well as 2 blood-borne (AKA chemical) agents. While they are effective at filtering out those nasty agents, they do have their drawbacks, such as being susceptible to corrosion from blister chemicals, which has a habit of dissolving the mask’s silicone rubber (they have been updated with a buytl ‘second skin’).

Another issue is that the masks provide no airflow what so ever, meaning it gets hot in there after long periods of time performing strenuous activities. Some users have been known to pass out wearing them in the field, especially during ‘Operation Desert Storm’, where troops were constantly under the constant threat of chemical attacks from Saddam’s forces. The US Army is looking to ease some of the issues regarding current CBRN masks with the development of a new mask that will help solve the airflow problem. Scientists from the Army’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center are developing the next-gen CBRN mask with an embedded fan in the mask’s filtration housing, which will not only bring much needed airflow but quite possibly make your voice sound ‘robot-like’ as well (assuming your mouth is next to the fan).


What a silly problem… gas mask suffocates the user.

The system works by drawing air in through the filtered side of the mask and blowing it over the user’s face next to the nose cup. When the soldier exhales, an air-valve over the intake filter closes and diverts all of the clean air into the mask’s eye cavity, over-pressurizing the mask to prevent any outside contamination from getting in from a broken seal. Expended air is then pushed through a release valve at the front of the mask. During testing of a modified version of the M50 (similar to the new mask being developed) equipped with the fan-based filtration system proved slightly better in comfort than the standard issue masks, however it didn’t have that cool ‘Darth Vader’ look the current prototype features.

The new CBRN mask is still being developed so it is currently unknown when they may be field-tested, so troops will have to contend with embracing their ‘inner Dark Side’ rather than projecting their ‘outer Dark Side’. Also.. it would be nice if the helmet system looks a little less like a… like a big old… “mushroom.”


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