Australian soldiers fighting in Afghanistan will receive new lightweight combat body armour by the end of 2010, according to the army chief Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie.

The new tiered body armour system (TBAS) comprises up to three load carriers designed for multiple combat roles and uses a new ballistic plate system that weighs less than the current modular combat body armour system.

The TBAS package will also incorporate a new ammunition pouch system designed to enhance pouch access and versatility.

Gillespie said the new TBAS was expected be issued to crucial elements of the next deployment of Australian troops in Afghanistan during 2011.

“The first batch of TBAS will be issued to the soldiers for trial at the end of 2010,” Gillespie said.

“We will also incorporate soldiers’ recommendations into the new tiered system once the trial is complete.”