The US Army is trialling advanced hearing protection technology called Tactical Communication And Protective System (TCAPS) with soldiers.
“This system provides advance active hearing protection to soldiers,” Maj. Mia P. Bruner, the assistant product manager for TCAPS said. “So not only does it protect soldiers hearing, but it enables their situational awareness.
The hearing protection is designed to protect soldiers against noises such as blasts and weapons fire and steady state noises like vehicle engines.
“It also provides hearing protection against impulse noise, so high noise environments against blasts and also steady state,” Bruner added. “So if a soldier is in a vehicle for a long time, or helicopter or aerial vehicle it will provide protection as well.”
According to data collected, soldiers have refrained from wearing other hearing protection because they feel it took away from situational awareness despite the damage that could be done to hearing.
“Post-combat health reports show that there have been significant hearing injuries or loss of hearing after a deployment,” Bruner said. “So with this system, we feel that it can fill the gap of providing hearing protection for soldiers.”
The device works by incorporating an active sound-suppression unlike previous noise cancelling devices that feature passive protection.
“It incorporates active noise reduction, so the soldiers, when they’re wearing the device, the background noise is being actively reduced for them,” said Lt. Col. Amy A. Blank, the Army hearing protection program manager for Fort Campbell at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital. “So what they hear is much more clear and concise, as well as protection.”
Bruner stated that the TCAPS device is designed to be compatible with the New Equipment Training Team Warrior system and other rifleman radio sets to include the (Army/Navy Portable Radio Communications) AN/PRC-154 and the AN/PRC-148 Enhanced Multiband Inter/Intra Team Radio (MBITR).
Bruner also mentioned that the Army’s G3 (Operations) provides PM SWAR with a list of which brigades area fielded the new TCAPS based upon upcoming deployment dates, with four brigades receiving the device each year.
“This is very important to us because we’re able to field our equipment, get it out to soldiers because we do all the acquisition work, now we have a solution where we want to get it into soldiers’ hands as quickly as possible after it’s been tested and proved,” Bruner said.