|Airman Battle Uniform|
|Type||Military camouflage patterned uniform|
|Place of origin||United States|
|In service||2007–2021 (USAF/USSF)[a]|
2016–present (Civil Air Patrol)
|Wars||Global War on Terrorism|
|Variants||Airman Battle Shirt (ABS)|
The Airman Battle Uniform (ABU) is a U.S. camouflage combat uniform worn by members of the Civil Air Patrol. The uniform was worn by United States Air Force Airmen, United States Space Force Guardians, and some civilian employees of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) until April 2021. It replaced the Battle Dress Uniform and Desert Camouflage Uniform on 1 November 2011 after a four-year phase-in period.
On 14 May 2018, The U.S. Air Force announced that all airmen will transition from the Airman Battle Uniform to the OCP Uniform. All airmen have been permitted to wear the OCP Uniform since 1 October 2018, and the wear out date for the ABU was 1 April 2021.
2003–2006: Prototypes and testing
The first prototype of the ABU was unveiled in the summer of 2003, based on the Vietnam War-era Tigerstripe pattern. The early uniform prototypes consisted of trousers, an embroidered undershirt, and a blouse. The prototype camouflage pattern was a blue/gray, tiger stripe pattern, based upon the tiger-stripe uniforms worn by airmen during the Vietnam War.
After months of wear testing, Air Force officials revised the color scheme and camouflage pattern due to feedback received from airmen. The new semi-pixelated tiger-stripe pattern would trade its dominant blue overtones for a more subdued palette, similar to the Universal Camouflage Pattern, but with some added slate blue tones. The uniform maintains a similar cut to the previous Battle Dress Uniform, rather than the contemporary Army Combat Uniform. The fabric was made in 50-50 nylon and cotton in order to reduce the need for summer/winter-type uniforms.
2007: ABU Roll-out
On 2 October 2007, the Air Force began issuing the ABU to enlisted trainees in Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base, was issued to the Class of 2012 at the United States Air Force Academy on 26 June 2008, and was made available for all airmen. Since 2008, it has been issued to airmen deploying to locations in the CENTCOM area of responsibility.
2009: Airman Battle Shirt introduced
Starting in 2009, airmen who were in ground combat roles, such as Security Forces, were issued the new Airman Battle Shirt (ABS). The ABS was based on the Army Combat Shirt (ACS). Like the ACS, the ABS is a stand-alone shirt designed specifically for use with Improved Outer Tactical Vest armor in warm and hot weather. It is intended to greatly increase user comfort through the use of lightweight, moisture-wicking, and breathable fabrics. The ABS features the same tiger stripe pattern on the sleeves.
In June 2011, The Air Force Times released the announcement of a summer weight ABU to be available in 2012. The Improved Airman Battle Uniform will be made of a 50–50 nylon-cotton blend and was composed of the same material used by the Army for the ACU. Just like the ABU, the IABU is machine washable and also wrinkle resistant. Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Norton A. Schwartz gave approval of the IABU coat and pants which will be available to trainees at Basic Military Training first.
2016: Civil Air Patrol adopts the ABU
The Air Force's civilian auxiliary, Civil Air Patrol, wear-tested the ABU in late 2015, and in May 2016, the national commander of the Civil Air Patrol issued a memorandum allowing the wear of the ABU effective 15 June 2016. However, the uniform is worn with dark blue background and light silver lettering name and branch tapes and black boots in order to distinguish CAP personnel.
2018: Switch to Operational Camouflage Pattern
All airmen have been authorized to wear the Operational Camouflage Pattern instead of ABUs since 1 October 2018. Recruits in basic training and cadets in Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps, and Officer Training School started being issued OCPs on 1 October 2019. The Airman Battle Uniform was no longer authorized to wear after 1 April 2021.
Features and attributes
The Airman Battle Uniform is similar to the Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP) in color, with the inclusion of slate blue, but is otherwise nearly identical to the BDU cut. The ABU is to be worn with sage green combat boots. The ABU does have essential NIR (near-infra red) qualities, and the sleeves are authorized to be rolled up.
Overview of the Airman Battle Uniform is as follows:
- Patrol cap.
- Boonie cover is available for the ABU for use in deployed locations.
- Organizational ballcaps are authorized for RED HORSE and Combat Arms Training and Maintenance personnel.
- Berets are authorized for Special Warfare, Security Forces, and Combat Aviation Advisers.
- Sage-green or black watch cap for cold climate environments with outerwear.
- Sand T-shirt
- All insignia, including occupational badges (aeronautical wings, occupational badges, etc.), are embroidered in midnight-blue thread with urban-gray background with the exception of rank insignia for 2nd Lieutenant and Major, which incorporate brown thread.
- Name and service tapes are embroidered in midnight-blue thread on ABU patterned background tapes.
- Chaplain, aeronautical, space, cyber, missile, occupational badges, duty shields, commander's badge, and weapons school patches are authorized.
- Outerwear such as APECS parka and sage green fleece are authorized for the ABU
- Sand rigger's belt
- Sage green combat boots
- DLA green socks.
Backpacks and other accessories must be sage, black, or ABU pattern.
- Dominican Republic: Worn by Dominican Air Force.
- Egypt: Worn by Egyptian Air Force and Egyptian Air Defense Forces
- United States:
Current U.S. uniforms
- Army Combat Uniform
- Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform
- Navy Working Uniform
- Operational Dress Uniform (U.S. Coast Guard)
Former U.S. uniforms
- Formally; limited prototype testing from 2006 to 2007. Used alongside the Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) until 2011. To be discontinued in 2021.
- Uniform phase-out date set for Nov. 1 Archived 2 May 2014 at the Wayback Machine
- Cox, Matthew (14 May 2018). "Air Force transitions to a single combat uniform". AF.mil. Archived from the original on 14 May 2018. Retrieved 14 May 2018.
- About.com US Military, (2004). Air Force Changes Color for Proposed Utility Uniform. Retrieved 7 April 2006. Archived 12 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine
- New uniforms: Comfortable, functional are goals . New uniforms: Comfortable, functional are goals. Retrieved 14 May 2009. Archived 2 May 2014 at the Wayback Machine
- Bruce Rolfsen. "Airmen will receive MultiCam, eventually". Army Times Publishing Company. Retrieved 13 September 2010.
- Lighter ABUs to help Airmen to beat heat in 2012, (2011). ""
- Air Force Link, (2006). "Airman Battle Uniform finalized, ready for production Archived 22 March 2006 at the Wayback Machine"
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 May 2016. Retrieved 16 August 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Mancaso, Shon J. (13 July 2018). Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel (PDF) (Report). Department of the Air Force. p. 9 of PDF. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 August 2018. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
- "Sleeves can now be rolled up". Archived from the original on 30 June 2016. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
- Air Force Link, (2007). Airman Battle Uniform poster. Retrieved 10 July 2007. Archived 23 July 2013 at the Wayback Machine
- "It's Official: The Air Force Is Switching to the Army's OCP Uniform". 14 May 2018. Archived from the original on 10 August 2018. Retrieved 10 August 2018.
- "Pentagon spends billions on duplicative camouflage outfits, GAO says". Archived from the original on 10 August 2018. Retrieved 10 August 2018.
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