|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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Backpacks and other accessories must be sage, black, or ABU pattern.
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