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A Sling Seat that Saves Lives

by christian on October 28, 2010

It’s not everyday a manufacturer will ask a customer in front of a crowd of people whether he was satisfied with a product. Not unrehearsed and unscripted, anyway.

But that’s what Frank Dlubak did Oct. 26 at the Association of the US Army conference in Washington, after hearing Army Spc. Jim Mata tell of being wounded in Baghdad by an explosively-formed projectile that entered through his back and exited his abdomen, bursting open his body armor. Mata, a gunner in an armored vehicle, had been in a Suspended Ergonomic Adjustable Tactical sling-seat when the projectile tore through the turret and his body.

“If the seat would have been better, could it have stopped some of the damage?” Dlubak asked Mata, who was speaking to the AUSA audience by satellite link from Iraq, where he was once again deployed.

After a few seconds delay while Dlubak’s words reached him, Mata replied: “Actually, they said that it was a very good seat. They said two things. They said if I would’ve been standing up I would have been split completely in half [by the EFP] …. Also the seat, as soon as the EFP hit, it did the right thing by just breaking away. I’m not sure how they described it but they said the seat actually helped me a lot by taking some of the impact.”

“I make the seat,” Dlubak said.

Mata looked surprised when the words reached him after the few seconds delay, then he smiled and laughed. “Thank you so much, sir,” he said.

For Dlubak, president of Dlubak Corporation in Pennsylvania, Mata’s words were absolute validation of the seat, which was designed by retired Army Lt. Col. Lou Gaston, a partner in the company.

“To hear him say it!” Dlubak told Military​.com in a brief interview following his exchange with Mata. “Did you see how excited he was about that seat?”

Dlubak said the seat was designed so gunners could “get out and get down fast.”

Dlubak now has about 47,000 of the seats out in the field. But he also said the company is making new version of the seat that will provide additional protection from shrapnel underneath. The newer seat is currently going through testing at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J., he said.

“The goal was to make something for the Soldier’s comfort, and also for safety,” he said. “I believe in what we do so much it was nothing for me to say what I said. We build it for the Soldier. It’s a big deal. It’s a good product. It’s all American made.”

— Bryant Jordan

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Retired Army MSG October 28, 2010 at 11:29 am

I know that anything other than the 2" strap to sit on would be better for gunners. I was a gunner for 5 months in Iraq during 2004 and often stood up because the 2" strap was not very comfortable to sit on for 8-10 hours at a stretch. It also put me and my Soldiers who were gunners at risk because we couldn't sit down in the turret while running through and around Bahgdad. I had read about a saddle maker who had designed a seat for gunners, but was unable to secure donations for the 10 seats we would need at $300 per seat.

David Johnson
MSG, USA (Ret)

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@Earlydawn October 28, 2010 at 12:58 pm

I'm having trouble visualizing it. It's just a strip of material that you balance on in the hatch?

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Dr. L Gaston, LTC-R October 28, 2010 at 4:41 pm

The S.E.A.T. is a multifunctional platform with quick release devices, aluminum baseplate, multi-foams for comfort and ergonomic enhancement, egress platform, easily laundered and lightweight. A compilation of gunner recommendations, personal experience and engineering.

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LTC-R Lou Gaston October 28, 2010 at 4:34 pm

MSG Johnson. The S.E.A.T. (Suspended-Ergonomic-Adjustable-Tactical) was designed as a multifunctional platform to address comfort, drop-down and egress capabilities. We asked gunners what they believed would be ideal to help perform their mission and the S.E.A.T. was the final compilation. The feedback has been very positive, thus the Army's adoption, which signaled a paradigm shift. We are now designing the Gen 2 S.E.A.T. that, I believe, is significantly better than the current S.E.A.T.

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Michael October 28, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Was curious what the seat looked like. I could not find any websites detailing the seat or photos.

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Ron M. October 28, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Saving lives? Not like you see things coming. I saw a turret gunner on a hummer get hit by RPG fired at 50m….. didn't help him. And RKG-3s suck too.

An active protection system is the only protection for that and those are not available.

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Dr. L Gaston, LTC-R October 28, 2010 at 4:53 pm

To Ron M: The S.E.A.T. was designed for gunner comfort and functionality while in the turret. In the event of an injury, it has quick release "drop-down" capabilities to lower the gunner into the safety of the cabin. It is also an egress platform. It is also designed to reduce sciatica and lumbalgia.
You are correct in stating that it has no effect on a projectile, such as an RPG. Our premise is that is the function of the external armor. There are severe limitations with a suspended seat. We feel we have addressed the common, practical issues. Hope this helps clarify.

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sara b November 6, 2010 at 10:00 pm

How about some positivity with all the gloom and doom out there! If someone is making a good, great product (DLUBAK) let's hope they will continue!! and improve!! we need people like dlubak/ gaston who are looking out for AMERICANS safety and helping anyone they can who is fighting for our country MR RON.

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Jacob Phillips October 31, 2010 at 7:36 am

It would be nice if DT could post a photo of the actual product being discussed… we have all seen a helmet/goggles/dusty road, but I have no idea what the SEAT looks like, my only experience is cursing at the stupid 2" web strap.

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