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At Osan Air Base in South Korea on Friday, airmen help each other fit the U.S. military’s new joint M-50 protective mask during an instructional session on its fitting and use.

At Osan Air Base in South Korea on Friday, airmen help each other fit the U.S. military’s new joint M-50 protective mask during an instructional session on its fitting and use. (Franklin Fisher / S&S)

At Osan Air Base in South Korea on Friday, airmen help each other fit the U.S. military’s new joint M-50 protective mask during an instructional session on its fitting and use.

At Osan Air Base in South Korea on Friday, airmen help each other fit the U.S. military’s new joint M-50 protective mask during an instructional session on its fitting and use. (Franklin Fisher / S&S)

Airmen in South Korea are the first within the U.S. Air Force to field the mask, which is slated for use within all services.

Airmen in South Korea are the first within the U.S. Air Force to field the mask, which is slated for use within all services. (Franklin Fisher / S&S)

OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — Airmen in South Korea are the first in the U.S. Air Force to be issued the military’s newest protective mask, one said to be lighter and easier to fit and use.

The M-50 joint service general purpose mask is designed for use by all the services.

It replaces the MCU-2P for the Air Force in South Korea, said Senior Master Sgt. Gregory Wise of the 51st Civil Engineer Squadron here.

"It’s a joint mask … that allows us to be operating with the same piece of equipment," Wise said.

"The parts are the same. Nomenclature is the same. How you wear it, it’s the same; there’s no variances there," said Wise, chief of the squadron’s readiness and emergency management flight.

A key improvement is that it comes with two filters, not one, Wise said.

"In the past, if you had to change a filter off, there’s a process where you have to hold your breath, take the filter out, and do another seal check on your mask," he said.

But the M-50 allows users to "quickly swap one filter out without obstructing their breathing efforts," he said.

The head harness makes it quicker to don and adjust compared to the earlier mask, officials said.

It’s also lighter, has a clearer field of vision, and is more comfortable to wear, they said.

"The visibility is a lot better. Breathing is easier," said Senior Master Sgt. Wendy Rowe, materiel management flight superintendent at Osan’s 51st Logistics Readiness Squadron.

"It’s a lighter-weight mask, and with the filters being more flush, it’s an easier fit," she said.

"They’re much more comfortable, have a good field of vision, and you can see more," said Tech. Sgt. Bobbie Hamilton of the 51st Aerospace Medicine Squadron’s bioenvironmental flight at Osan.

"Also, with the inserts, if they have to wear glasses, it doesn’t obstruct their view, whereas the old ones were just clunky," she said.

Airmen attend a class on how to fit and use the mask. Then each airman’s mask is tested with electronic equipment to ensure a proper fit.


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