25/06/2009

UK Troops Get Boost To Personal Protection

British troops fighting in the frontline are to receive new body armour and helmets this autumn, it has been announced.

Over 10,000 sets of the enhanced Mark 7 helmet and the Osprey Assault body armour have been ordered from companies across the UK, under initial contracts worth around £16 million.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) says the new body armour has "all the stopping power of the kit is replacing, but is lighter, closer fitting and easier to move in".

The new armour and helmet were unveiled at the MoD's DVD 2009 event at the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire.

It is thought the new helmet will replace the existing Mark. It comes with a new four-point harness to keep the helmet more stable when night vision equipment is fitted to it.

The helmet also has a new gap above the eye to compensate for the helmet tilting forward when a soldier goes into the prone position before firing, and there are plans to fit it with mounting brackets.

Meanwhile, the new Osprey Assault body armour has all the stopping power of the current Osprey but is closer fitting, less bulky and easier to move in.

Speaking at the kit’s launch, the MoD's chief of defence material, General Sir Kevin O’Donoghue described the new kit as a "proven world class system", adding the new body armour would "get the best kit for the job they are doing".

He added: "Specifically the troops will be issued with a new ballistic plate that is much thinner, considerably reducing their bulk and burden and improving their endurance.

"This has been designed for an improved fit, based on user feedback and includes a new system for carrying ammunition, first aid equipment and other vital kit."

The new body armour and helmet will be delivered to troops deploying to Afghanistan this Autumn.

DVD is an equipment showcase which highlights the importance of diverse areas such as fuel delivery, clothing, food and vehicles that have been bought or upgraded under the Urgent Operational Requirement programme.

(JM/BMcC)

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