An airman models the legacy physical training uniform, left, and the modified PT uniform, right. (Tech. Sgt. Lionel Castellano/Air Force)
The Air Force’s announcement in 2009 that improved PT warmups would soon be available was welcome news to airmen who complained about the “swish” and discomfort of the standard-issue baggy warmups they had been wearing since 2005.
But when the improved physical training uniform hit the shelves at Army and Air Force Exchange Service locations the following year, it was up to airmen to use their clothing replacement allowance to buy the better-fitting version made of more breathable fabric. And the replacement allowance — at $22.38 per year for the jacket and $14.30 for the pants — covered one-third of the cost of the $67.15 for the jacket and $42.90 for the pants.
Now, four years after the IPTU first became available to airmen, the Air Force will begin issuing the updated warmup as part of the standard-issue clothing bag for men and women entering the service. All recruits and cadets will start receiving the IPTU on Oct. 1, Air Force officials said.
The service is negotiating a new contract for the warmups and expects to establish new prices in the coming weeks, said Air Force spokesman Maj. Matt Hasson, in an emailed response to questions. Right now, the big difference in price is in the jacket, which is $67.15 for the old one and $81.84 for the new one. The pants are about the same, at $42.90 for the old ones and $44.41 for the new ones.
Once contract negotiations are complete, the price of the IPTU could change.
“The price has not been determined; however, [the Defense Logistics Agency] and the Air Force always attempt to make standard issue uniform prices as cost manageable and cost effective as possible for airmen,” Hasson said.
That could be good news for airmen who have been issued the old warmups over the past four years and didn’t want to pay the price for the upgrade at more than $100 for the set. Current regulations prohibit mixing and matching the old jacket and pants.
Meanwhile, airmen looking to buy the IPTU will find them in short supply through the summer months, the Air Force announced earlier this month, as DLA works with the contractor, the National Institute of the Blind, to ramp up production and clear the shelves of the old warmup, which was produced through 2012.
While the shortage is in effect, officials said airmen should rely on additional physical training uniform combinations outlined in Air Force Instruction 36-2903, “Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel.”
Airmen should not “mix/match the PTU/IPTU running suit jacket and running suit pants,” the AFI states. “All other combinations authorized.”
To stay warm, airmen may wear the optional long-sleeved IPTU shirt — found online for as low as $14.99 — with the PTU or IPTU shorts or running pants. They also can wear the optional IPTU sweatshirt with the shorts or pants. The sweatshirt costs $25.95.
For now, airmen may wear either warmup set.
The old warmup will be phased out through attrition and can be worn as long as they are in good condition, Hasson said.