This interview was exclusively carried out by Soldier Systems Daily with the team from Unleashed Tactical

Equipment leading up to the launch of their new range of flame retardant products. It gives an insight into the design intent of these products and why they have taken the path they have.

What is the Cilahc range and why was it developed?

The concept of Cilahc was born following the injury of a close UTE friend. Following an IED attack the clothing our friend was wearing was set alight and resulted in severe burns to his face, hands and airway. While the attack was not avoidable, the secondary injuries from the burning garments were. This became the nucleus of Cilahc: “to provide the most for use apparel for military, law enforcement and security specialists”. Specifically to offer a range of products that was designed from the fibre components to the finished product to reduce the risk of flame or other burns should the wearer be exposed to this threat. The product range is currently composed of a jacket, pants and next to skin shirt similar in style to the Norwegian Arctic shirt.

Generally, we refer to the broader capability as Fire Resistant. But you consider Cilahc as actually flame retardant (FR). Could you elaborate on this a little?

Excluding the established FR materials like aramids, under the right conditions, a number of materials (wool, cotton etc) can be called Fire Resistant and perform well within a certain range. We refer to the Cilahc range of clothing as Flame Retardant as it does much more for the user than just resist flame. The material combinations, how they are woven and finally constructed into garments has been looked at not only from the burn threat, but also from the users environment and tasks. As an example, users working in an oxygen rich environment i.e. Administering oxygen therapy to a casualty creates an additional flame/burn risk. The Cilahc materials can have an LOI of 28 but can go as high 38 depending on user requirements. In addition, readers of Soldier Systems Daily will be aware of the risk of injury by flame, however there are other mechanisms of injury associated with flame but not by direct flame itself. It is these “other injury” threats in conjunction with direct flame that we addressed in the Cilahc development.

Can you expand on that, isn’t FR all about the flame?

Flame is only one issue we dealt with in Cilahc. We found that conventional FR aramids and their variants (which are high tenacity fibres) allowed spall and other ballistic debris to hook into the material and continue to burn the wearer. For this reason our material is hard wearing, but does not allow burning debris to hook into it. We also decided at an early stage of development not to incorporate a weather proof membrane layer. During testing we discovered that when the membrane was saturated with moisture (sweat), applying a blast of heat similar to an IED created close to superheated steam. This was driven by the temperature gradient and pressure toward the wearers body resulting in steam burns to the skin. Not incorporating a membrane removed this additional burn risk.

This interview was exclusively carried out by Soldier Systems Daily with the team from Unleashed Tactical Equipment leading up to the launch of their new range of flame retardant products. It gives an insight into the design intent of these products and why they have taken the path they have.

Are you saying that Cilhac will replace all the established flame retardant materials on the market?

No, there will always be a need for task or job specific FR turn out gear made to a appropriate industry standard that include functional membranes. However, not everyone needs, can afford or has access to this level of equipment. What we are offering are products that allow our users to carry out their tasks with a greater degree of safety than they currently have. The Cilahc range also offers additional benefits over conventional aramids. Printing and colour fastness have traditionally been difficult with these materials. With Cilahc the range of colours, patterns and colour durability is greatly improved.

I’ve seen many solutions that do similar to what you have described. What makes Cilahc so special?

You are right, there are several materials that appear to do similar to Cilahc. However, fire is only one element of the elements we manage with Cilahc. Also incorporated into the material is a water repellant (hydrophobic) outer surface treatment and a water loving (hydrophilic) inner surface treatment. In combination, this keeps the outer surface of the material dry and moves sweat away from the body extremely fast. The combination also allows very quick drying times. The material also incorporates a finish that reduces heat build up in the textile from solar radiation, even in dark colours. The same technology also provides a high degree of protection against UV radiation

Looking at the design of the garments, their features appear to be more civilian and less tactical/military. Why is this?

The initial batch of products were for a specialist police group and this is what drove the current design process. What is worth highlighting though is the effect that garment design had on product performance. During the development we found that areas of the garments could breach their operating parameters and those of the test methods. As an example, the dynamics and properties of a gas flowing over a smooth surface are very different to those flowing over a bulging pocket or material flap. For this reason, we have decided to keep the design lines and features as low profile as possible. We would add that all textiles and garment designs will behave in this way and is in no way specific to our materials or design.

This interview was exclusively carried out by Soldier Systems Daily with the team from Unleashed Tactical Equipment leading up to the launch of their new range of flame retardant products. It gives an insight into the design intent of these products and why they have taken the path they have.

It seems like everyone has their own camo pattern these days. Will we see versions of Cilahc in respective national camouflage patterns?

If we were asked to develop a version of Cilahc in a disruptive pattern we could. That’s all we can say on that topic.

The physical properties aside, are there areas of use where Cilahc is more suited to than others, both from a user and environmental perspective?

We think Cilahc has a broad range of application and utility across several services and environments. If pushed, we would suggest that the current garment designs lends itself more to a covert or civilian type task in dry to semi dry environments. Having said that we did some field trials this winter with temperatures well into the minus numbers the product performed very well, lasting the whole nine days and washing up well at the end. We think it’s fair to say that anyone that is tasked with operating under a high physiological burden in any conditions will benefit from our Cilahc products.

Where, when and who will have access to Cilahc products?

We’re in the process of reviewing our distribution methods so for the immediate future, the Cilahc range of products will be available direct from us. We are officially launching the the range at the IWA Show in Nuremberg Germany 11-14 March 2011. We’ll be on hand to discuss this and other products we develop. Users can get additional information at the dedicated page on our website. The original concept for the products was to provide the most fit for use product to our end users. Therefore Cilahc Apparel by Unleashed Tactical Equipment will be available for private purchase, group/team purchase and government agencies.

Further information on Cilahc and other UTE products can be found at: www.unleashed-tactical.com