WASHINGTON (Army News Service, April 11, 2007) - The Army has developed an improved one-piece uniform for mounted Soldiers that provides better fit and enhances fire resistance and durability.

The improved Combat Vehicle Coverall is being evaluated by 2,000 Fort Knox, Ky., Soldiers with the 2nd Infantry Division, 3rd Infantry Division and 16th Cavalry Regiment. Widespread fielding is expected later this year.

Program Executive Office Soldier, headquartered at Fort Belvoir, Va, is directing the user evaluations. PEO Soldier designs, develops, procures and fields virtually everything today's Soldiers wear or carry.

Maj. Clay Williamson, PEO Soldier's assistant product manager for clothing and individual equipment, said that PEO Soldier requires rigorous testing before any article of clothing or piece of equipment is approved for use. "Everything is tested to make sure it is safe and highly effective before we field it," Maj. Williamson said.

But fielding a new version of the coverall does not mean the work is finished, he added. Research is ongoing so continual improvements can be made. "All our fire-resistant uniforms are spiral-development efforts because of the urgency and nature of the threat that our Soldiers are facing. We field the best equipment that is available, and then use Soldier feedback to continue to make it even better," he said.

The new coverall has an elastic back waist and adjustment tabs to customize fit, decrease bulk and increase maneuverability for armor vehicle crews. The seat patch has been widened and lengthened to provide more coverage and to improve the uniform's durability, and the uniform is made in the universal camouflage pattern.

The new coverall and other state-of-the-art equipment and clothing will be on display at PEO Soldier's exhibit at the Armor Warfighting Symposium, April 30 through May 3 Fort Knox.

The Army's fire-resistant clothing goes through laboratory flame testing and state-of-the-art mannequin flame testing, the latter at an independent facility at North Carolina State University. User evaluations are an important part of testing as well. "We are constantly seeking Soldier feedback to make further improvements," Maj. Williamson said.

As part of the ongoing tests on the iCVC, an alternate Nomex-based fabric called Abrams material is being considered as a possible replacement for the current MILSPEC Nomex fabric. The new fabric, which is slightly heavier than Nomex, would double the durability of the uniform, hold up better to abrasion and offer better resistance to fading from sunlight.

Soldiers' evaluations will continue through June.