UK military systems innovator BCB International demonstrated its new Floating Armour Torso System (FATS), which incorporates a lifejacket into body armour, at the recent DSEI show in London.

The system is designed to protect personnel in the water by automatically inflating, righting the wearer’s body and keeping the airway clear. The system’s built-in lifejacket is housed underneath the armour to protect it from being damaged once deployed. Most military armoured lifejackets house the buoyancy aide outside the armour, leaving it vulnerable to a range of threats.

BCB International’s Special Projects Manager Ben Simmons said: “The FATS system is an ingenious armoured lifejacket. Its dual-purpose application makes it a must-wear item for any operative who needs ballistic protection while working in maritime or riverine environments. The armour protects the uninflated lifejacket and the lifejacket itself automatically inflates once immersed in water.

“FATS is self-righting which means that if the wearer should fall into the water unconscious or injured, the system will flip him or her onto their back to keep their airways clear of water.”

Demonstrating the merits of system at DSEI, the company said the lifejacket insert could be removed to make the armour less bulky when operators transfer from water to land.

BCB also explained that the water-triggered mechanism to automatically inflate the vest can be capped to prevent accidental inflation in high-humidity environments or cramped spaces such as in a helicopter.

The armour comes in two buoyancy variants and the ability to use either hard or soft armour plates.

BCB International also showed a range of products including waterproof notebooks, its FireDragon fuel, blast boxers and a new modular buttstock. The FRAMM buttstock allows weapons to be used in a wider range of combat scenarios and makes it easier for operators to handle weapons when equipped with ballistic visors and gas masks.

BCB International FRAMM project manager Philippe Minchin said: “The FRAMM is not your typical rifle buttstock. It allows operators to customise their standard-issue firearms. At a press of a button, the FRAMM enables an officer to switch from a classic straight buttstock alignment to a lowered setting of their choosing thereby eliminating the risk of their helmet visors or respirator masks interfering with the shouldering, aiming and firing of their weapon.”

In the run-up to DSEI, BCB announced had renewed its contract with the Ministry of Defence to supply FireDragon to the British Army, as reported by Army Technology.