Saturday, 19 May 2012

SAF soldiers to get lighter boots, new pixelated uniforms for RSAF & RSN

Giving the boot to odours and blisters
By Jermyn Chow, The Straits Times, 18 May 2012

SOLDIERS of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will feel lighter on their feet by the year end - they will be shod in new boots designed to ward off blisters, sprains - and even smelly feet.

These 'Frontier' boots feature faster-drying nylon uppers and outsoles that allow for the quicker lateral movements required in urban warfare.

They will replace the Gore-Tex boots that have been in use in the last decade.

The Defence Ministry confirmed the change, saying that 1,500 recruits have been testing out the new boots since February.

The Army's Supply Headquarters' system development section head Harry Lim said he and his team had surveyed the market for boots to meet the SAF's needs.

After a three-year study covering more than 20 models, the SAF-customised Frontier boots beat the field because they are:
- Lighter: At 705g a pair, they are 25g lighter than the current Gore-Tex model. The Frontier is also one of the lightest in the world; the combat boots used in the United States Army, for instance, weigh in at about 900g. 
- More comfortable: When wet, the Frontier's nylon material dries in an hour.
The holes on the inner sides allow water in the boots to drain.

They also allow a soldier's feet to 'breathe better', cutting the risk of blisters, the pong from being in the boots for hours on end, or the more serious but less common ailment of foot rot.
- Safer: The polyurethane insoles can absorb 20 per cent more shock and prevent sprained ankles. The outsoles will equip Singapore soldiers, who are increasingly training to fight in urbanised areas, to be the most fleet-footed in the world.
Military Expert 5 Lim, who was on the team that sourced for the boots and has tried them, said the outsoles, which grip the hard ground more effectively, are better for soldiers, who need to be nimble. This is especially important when they need to move quickly in any of several directions in urban areas, while minimising the risk of injury.

He said the new boots, like their Gore-Tex predecessor, can last about a year for regulars and full-time national servicemen, and four years for operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen).

The boot change is in step with recent moves to enhance soldiers' comfort during training. Their fatigues, for example, were recently changed to ones made of fabric that wick sweat away from the body and dry faster; they also allow more air to circulate, which is key to preventing heatstroke.

Last year, soldiers were also fitted with lighter, more durable Asics running shoes for their physical training.

There are about 320,000 regulars, active full-time and NSmen in the SAF.

Servicemen may buy the Frontier boots from SAF eMarts in the Kranji, Clementi, Sungei Gedong and Jurong camps from the end of this month and in all eMarts by the year end.

Senior Warrant Officer Errol Sanath, a sergeant-major of the army's Training and Doctrine Command, likes the boots' water drainage feature.

The 49-year-old, who wore the Frontier boots for a 32km route march and crossed water obstacles last week, said: 'They are lighter and more breathable... I'm glad the development of personal equipment has adopted a more soldier-centric approach.'





Pixelated uniforms for sailors, airmen
By Jermyn Chow, The Straits Times, 18 May 2012

THE sailors and airmen of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will switch over to uniforms in the pixelated fabric worn by the army, except that theirs will be in shades of grey or blue.

For the first time, from SAF Day on July 1, all three arms of the military will sport a standard look of digital camouflage distinguished only by colour.

The pixelated uniforms will replace the current solid-coloured navy blue coveralls that men and women in the navy and air force have been wearing for more than 20 years.

The Defence Ministry, in a statement yesterday, detailed the features of the new uniforms first reported by The Straits Times last November.

Mindef said the fatigues were chosen to better match the grey and blue of Singapore's warships, warplanes and the air and naval squadrons. 'This effectively blends the airmen and sailors in their respective operating platforms and enhances their survival by delaying enemy detection.'

Active personnel will get their new uniforms later this year while operationally-ready national servicemen will receive theirs next year.

The air force and navy's No. 4 uniform will share features with the army's green fatigues, which were introduced in 2008.

Besides the pixel patterns, the No. 4 uniform will have functional features such as a mandarin collar to protect the neck from abrasion by life jackets or binoculars with neck straps.

The fabric, woven from cotton and polyester, is designed to dry quickly, transfer sweat to the outer surface and allow air to circulate.

The side pockets have pouches in them for items such as ear plugs or anti-fire gear - features that servicemen who were polled asked for, said Military Expert 5 Phui Peng Sim, the Republic of Singapore Navy's Master Chief.

The US Navy introduced its blue-grey pixel-pattern uniform in 2009 to replace its utility kit of a light blue shirt and navy blue trousers. The Australian and British militaries have also adopted pixel patterns in their uniforms.




**** December 2016: SAF introduces new combat boots and physical training shoes





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