The Airman Battle Uniform is on track for distribution this spring to deploying Airmen. The uniform will be ready for distribution to Airmen deploying as part of AEFs 7/8. Most Airmen will get two ABU sets and two Desert Combat Uniform sets for their deployment. By October 2007, the Air Force will begin issuing the ABU to Airmen in basic military training, and in June 2008, the uniform will be available for purchase by the rest of the Air Force in Army Air Force Exchange Service outlets. The current projected mandatory wear date for the new ABU is October 2011. Manyfactors were considered in developing the final uniform selection, with the concern for Airmen being at the top of the list. The new uniform will have the four pockets on the front of the shirt, and also a small pencil pocket on the left forearm and two pockets on the lower legs. In addition, inside the side pockets and inside of the breast pockets there will be smaller sewn-in pockets to hold small tools, flashlights or cell phones.The new uniform design is a pixilated tiger stripe with four soft earth tones consisting of tan, grey, green and blue. The ABU will have a permanent crease and will be offered in 50-50 nylon-cotton blend permanent press fabric eliminating the need for winter and summer weight uniforms. The ABU boasts 236 different size options in both male and female sizes. Additionally, its permanent press finish means the uniform cannot be starched, pressed or dry-cleaned. Airmen will be able to pull the ABU from the clothes dryer and wear it without further treatment. Any ironing could degrade the effectiveness of the uniform. The cost for the uniform, pants and coat, runs about $81. Additional items, such as socks, T-shirts, belts, and ABU-style hats will also need to be purchased. Airmen are authorized to wear DCU-style boots with the ABU until the newly designed green boots become readily available. The green boots are priced at $100.Some other ABU accessory items:
-- A tan T-shirt will be worn; Airmen will be required to maintain one tan T-shirt with an Air Force logo on the front and Air Force written on the back.
-- Suede cowhide boots in matching green-gray color; like the desert boot these will be polish-free and available in men’s and women’s sizes.
-- The word color for the name, U.S. Air Force, and rank is midnight blue; nametapes and rank insignia background will be tan and will be sewn on using a matching tan color thread.
-- The ABU adopts the battle dress uniform hat style for primary use and the floppy hat design will be used in some deployed areas.
The uniform is designed to replace the current BDU (Battle Dress Uniform) and the Desert Battle Dress Uniform.