Officials are also considering maintenance-free boots and alternative T-shirts.
The uniform patterns are being cut, with production to begin in November. Data collection and analysis, and any potential adjustments, will occur from August through October 2004. A final decision on the uniform is expected in December 2004. If approved, production could begin as soon as 2005, with a phase-in date to be determined.
A prototype of the new Air Force utility uniform was unveiled July 9 in various duty sections at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., and Bolling AFB, D.C.
Senior Master Sgt. Jacqueline Dean, from the Air Force uniform board, enlisted the aid of eight airmen to demonstrate both the mens and womens version of the blue, gray and green tiger-stripe camouflage uniform for photographers.
Opinions varied, but were largely positive.
Second Lt. Arcelia Miller, from the Air Forces special security office, tested the uniform in an entry control point environment at Andrews.
I like (the blouse) tucked in, she said. It looks super.
Miller said she also like the uniforms look and fit.
The color is different, she said. I like it; its comfortable and its low-maintenance. It has a bunch of Air Force logos, and I like the rigger belt, and I love the black T-shirt -- its very professional looking.
Senior Master Sgt. Vicky Jones, from the Bolling AFBs 11th Security Forces Squadron, observed other security forces members in the uniform.
I like it; the material reminds me of the old fatigues, Jones said. Its lightweight (and) it looks like it conforms better to the body. And its Air Force blue, ooh-rah! Its good to be back in the Air Force.
Capt. Rachel Sullivan, from the 89th Maintenance Group at Andrews was surprised.**** Theyre blue! she exclaimed.
Sullivan and Tech. Sgt. Thomas Stone, also from the 89th MXG, wore the uniform while reviewing maintenance checklists for a C-9 Nightingale.
The pants seem to fit better and the belts nice and big, Sullivan said.
Sullivan also noted that, while many maintainers use the lower shirt pockets, the new uniform has only breast pockets on the blouse.
I dont care for the (Navy) Seabee-style hat or the embroidered T-shirt, Sullivan added, but she said she was otherwise pleased with the womens cut.
Performance-wise, Stone felt that the cuffs got in the way a bit while he was going through his maintenance routine. Contrary to Sullivan, he did not like the belt.
In another flightline environment, Staff Sgt. Crystal Cardinale tried out the uniform while working on a District of Columbia Air National Guard F-16 Fighting Falcon.
I like the T-shirt, the 113th Fighter Wing crew chief said. The T-shirt is a black, three-button Henley style shirt with the Air Force logo on left breast and the wearers name embroidered on the right.
Inside Bollings 11th Communication Squadron server room, Senior Airman Brandi Wyatt recognized the new uniforms low-maintenance appeal.
Its wash and wear, and thats my kind of uniform, Wyatt said.
The wear test period officially begins in January, when 300 uniforms will endure the rigors of Air Force life, indoor and out. Wearers and observers alike will be able to record their comments and observations on an Air Force Web site, noting the good, the bad and the ugly.
Officials say, if approved, production could begin as soon as 2005, with a phase-in date to be determined.