British troops in Afghanistan are about to benefit from the introduction of new advanced body armour and helmets. Not only will the new armour provide better ballistic protection but it will also enhance soldier comfort.
The UK ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced that over 10,000 sets of the enhanced mk7 helmet and the Osprey Assault body armour kit have been ordered under initial contracts worth around £16m.
The new helmets have the same armour as the mk6A currently in use, but are fitted with a new harness to keep the helmet stable when night-vision equipment is being used. The helmet is also better integrated with new weapon sights, to allow soldiers to use weapons in a variety of fighting positions.
The new Osprey Assault body armour has the same ballistic stopping power as previous armour kits but is closer fitting, less bulky and much easier to move around in.
Minister for Defence Equipment and Support Quentin Davies said that the contracts demonstrate that the government is listening to what troops need by continuously upgrading their equipment.
"The Osprey body armour that we issue to all troops on operations provides excellent personal protection, as recent stories of troops surviving due to their armour show," Davies said.
Chief of Defence Materiel General Sir Kevin O'Donoghue said that the equipment is specifically developed to meet requirements using cutting edge materials and manufacturing technology.
"The troops will be issued with a new thinner ballistic plate, considerably reducing their bulk and burden and improving their endurance. The soft fragmentation armour 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," O'Donoghue said.
Contracts have been awarded by the MoD to companies including; NP Aerospace, which will provide the mk7 helmet; Morgan Armour, which will make the Osprey Assault body armour plates; Aegis Engineering and Seyntex, based in Belgium, which will provide soft armour fragmentation fillers; and Solo International, which will make the Osprey Assault load carriage covers.
The new body armour and helmet will be delivered to troops deploying to Afghanistan during later in the year.