The US Army Research, Development and Engineering Command's (REDCOM) International Technology Center-Latin America (ITC) has tested a mine-protective boot for potential use by US soldiers in the battlefield.
Collaborating with Army Aberdeen Test Center (ATC), the ITC conducted tests to fully evaluate the boots, which are claimed to be incorporating blast protection, ballistics protection, and human factors, against the US military standards.
RDECOM Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center mechanical engineer Matt Davenport said the army already has a physical product without having to start a new programme and go through the entire process.
"This is a huge time and cost-saving tool for getting capabilities to the soldier," Davenport said.
"If we know there are undocumented mines in the area and still need to conduct a mission there, we can provide this product to mitigate the risk and magnitude of injuries, if they do occur."
The ITC-ATC team focused on the factors, such as improved blast protection, minimal additional weight and size, and zero degradation to a soldier's mobility, during evaluation of the boots, which has been fielded in South America since 2009.
Tested for 20 hours over five days by the Army National Guardsmen and Marine Corps Reservists using the funding through the army's foreign comparative testing (FCT) programme, the boots demonstrated the potential to address the army requirements.
The personnel used a boot course, obstacle course, and military-operations-in-urban-terrain course for testing, and the results were subsequently compared with baseline testing from the standard-issue boot.
FCT project officer William Everett said the testing indicated that the boots are currently not ready for fielding, but the data collected will be beneficial to the army's future research efforts.
"The fact that the testing has been so extensive is considered a success for FCT because that accumulated data will help determine what a future requirement for a boot would be," Everett said.
Image: RDECOM Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center mechanical engineer Matt Davenport inspects the mine boot before blast-protection testing. Photo: courtesy of Conrad Johnson, RDECOM.