The M45 “Land Warrior” protective mask system was fielded in 1996 in order to replace the M43 Type II and M24 aircrew masks, as well as to protect personnel who cannot fit the standard M40A1 and M42A2 protective masks.. The mask itself features a facepiece made of silicone rubber, a protected drinking system for hydrating in contaminated environments, an internal electronic microphone, frontal voice diaphragm for clear communication, and close-fitting eyelenses that are shaped to improve peripheral vision. It is notable that all plastic parts of the mask are sonic welded, a process which has never been applied to a protective mask in the past.
Prototype and developmentEdit
The M45 prototype was assumed to be designated as the XM-45, and was constructed of clear silicone rubber in order to show the internal workings of the mask. There is some speculation that the silicone rubber prototype could actually be an XM-47, but it is hard to tell due to the limited amount of information on the Land Warrior prototypes.
The mask is issued with a faceform to keep the mask’s shape, and M42/M45 series mask carrier, an M1 waterproofing bag for protecting the mask in wet or extremely damp environments, and an instruction/user maintenance pamphlet. The mask’s eyelenses can be fitted with neutral gray outserts for daylight, laser lenses for protection against military lasers, and clear outserts for protection against low velocity shrapnel. The mask itself is usually used in conjunction with a butyl-coated nylon chemical hood for protection against droplets and heavily concentrated aerosols of chemical warfare agents. The mask could also be fitted with an electronic voice amplifier for increased communication abilities as well as a “second skin” for increased protection of the facepiece against mustard agents (Mustard agents are highly corrosive to silicone rubber).
When used for aircrew purposes, the M45 can also be fitted with a special hose and canister sling, so that the aviator can have maximum mobility while operating the aircraft. Depending on the circumstances, an aircrew-purposed M45 may or may not be used with a blower unit (such as the Avon C420).
The mask is compatible with all aircrew helmets that are currently in service. The mask’s eyelenses can also be used with a variety of night vision and thermal optic systems, that can be either weapon or helmet mounted.
The mask is usually issued with an M291 and/or M295 decontamination kit(s) for decontamination of personnel, weapons, and equipment.