Defense Media Network

U.S. Army’s New Fabric Will Enhance Cybersecurity, Subzero Weather Durability

The Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center, or CCDC SC, is working with industry to develop a new shelter fabric that will increase durability in subzero conditions and provide electromagnetic, or EM, shielding. The EM shielding will prevent the detection of EM emissions that are generated within a Command Post shelter and provide cybersecurity to Command Post wireless networks.

CCDC SC’s Expeditionary Maneuver Support Directorate is working with industry partners to develop the new laminate systems with higher performance and durability. Kristian Donahue, a chemical engineer in EMSD at CCDC SC, explained that General Purpose, or GP, shelter fabrics are currently made with a coating that becomes brittle at subzero temperatures. This impacts the durability of the fabric, the environmental protection of the shelter, and the light discipline aspect of signature management. Light discipline refers to luminous signs that can lead to the detection of the presence of troops and military facilities.

Donahue stated that the team was already able to successfully develop a new GP tent material that eliminates the low-temperature durability issues, a significant milestone which will help benefit the EM shielding work as well.

“Our goal is to also add additional functionality to this GP tent fabric by integrating an electromagnetic shielding material into the GP fabric,” said Donahue. “This EM shielding fabric will prevent the EM emissions generated within a Command Post shelter from being detected by adversaries, as well as provide cybersecurity to wireless networks operating within the CP.”

Donahue explained that EM shielding is important for both security and Soldier safety.

“Electromagnetic emissions can be detected by adversaries therefore giving away your position,” said Donahue. “Those emissions can also be intercepted and exploited by cyber warfare units.”

The new shelter fabric is also lower weight, thus reducing the logistical footprint. Moreover, there is no longer the risk of increased volume associated with the current fabric, which may become stiff at subzero temperatures and the stiffness can affect volume. In certain cases the increased volume may interfere with moving and packing.

The new fabric technology will also enhance Soldier protection and lethality.

“With increasing peer and near-peer adversaries, the ability to maintain Command and Control and Communications becomes highly imperative,” said Donahue. “The ability to maintain C3 while not being detected is important in the ability to increase unit survivability and unit lethality. The ability to deny detection during a multi-domain battle will ensure dominance on the battlefield.”