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DARPA Awards FLIR $20.5 Million for Next-Generation PPE

Integrated Soldier Protective System Will Ease Physical Burden

In an attempt to deal with the considerable weight and physiological burden imposed by existing personal protective equipment (PPE) on military personnel, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) instituted the Personalized Protective Biosystems (PPB) programme. On 12 April, FLIR Systems announced it has been awarded a five-year contract under PPB – with initial funding of $11.2 million (€9.4 million), rising to $20.5 million if all options were to be exercised – to rapidly develop novel fabrics with embedded catalysts and chemistries that can fight and reduce chemical and biological threats upon contact.

These revolutionary fabrics will be incorporated into protective suits and other equipment, such as boots, gloves, and eye protection, that can be worn by troops on the battlefield, medical experts, healthcare workers, and more. PPB will combine novel, lightweight protective materials with new prophylactic medical technologies that mitigate chemical and biological threats at vulnerable tissue barriers, notably the eyes, skin and lungs. The complete system will enable troops and first responders to operate without the burden of carrying and wearing PPE, which can cause heat stress and reduce time spent completing the mission.

With lives at stake, future operators wearing PPB suits will gain a major edge in staying protected from toxic chemicals and emerging biological threats, such as dangerous viruses,” commented Mark Stock, VP/GM of the Sensor Systems business at FLIR. The company, and its teaming partners, will develop a prototype fabric material, the Integrated Soldier Protective System (ISPS), for testing by government laboratories. The ISPS award consists of a two-year base period, two-year first option, and one-year final option. The result after five years will be a suite of prototype protective fabrics and garments ready for transition to a programme of record with the DoD.

For a brief video outlining the characteristics of the ISPS, click here:


The ISPS will incorporate innovative design and materials to provide protection against a wide variety of chemical and biological agents. (Image: FLIR Systems)

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