September 2005 - The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) was notified on July 18 that it had been awarded a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) contract from the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center (NSC) in Natick, Mass., for the development of a knitted, flame-retardant fabric.
The specific objective of this project is to develop a fabric for next-to-skin wear that enhances flame protection for the wearer. The fabric will consist of an intimate blend of 50-percent wool and 50-percent aramid fibers. The addition of the wool in the blend will give the wearer comfort without sacrificing the desired thermal protection offered by the currently used 100-percent aramid fabric and will also provide the military a less expensive alternative.
The mission of NSC is to assure maximum survivability, supportability, sustainability and combat-effectiveness of individual soldiers and crews on the battlefield under world-wide environmental extremes. Natick is deeply committed to making soldiers, and all service members, the best clothed, equipped, sheltered and fed in the world.
The development of this new wool/aramid fabric has captured the attention of the U.S. military. This is the second contract that ASI has received through Natick for the research and development of a family of new woolen products. The first resulted in the development of a woven wool/aramid fabric, while this product will be created using a knit construction.
This fabric will have widespread application possibilities for the military, as well as for commercial users. ASI understands that it is the intent of the military to trial this fabric as an under-layer garment for its soldiers.