The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has taken delivery of new personal equipment from Level Peaks Associates and ASE Corporate Eyewear, to address flying requirements of military aircrews.
Supplied as part of contracts with a combined value of £11m, the new body armour, combat boots and eyewear will be used by all pilots and aircrew on operations throughout the British Army, Navy, and Royal Air Force (RAF).
UK defence equipment, support and technology minister Philip Dunne said the latest contracts reaffirmed the MoD’s ongoing commitment to delivering the best possible equipment to the service personnel.
"This new aircrew-specific equipment will help increase performance and comfort for those engaged in vital lifesaving roles in the skies above Afghanistan and here in the UK," Dunne said.
Manufactured by Level Peaks Associates, the body armour is designed to enable aircrews to easily manoeuvre around the cockpit, while offering armoured protection.
As well as allowing personnel to carry all essential kit, including radios, pistols and ammunition, the lightweight jacket also supports integration of a lifejacket and a winch hook for emergency rescue missions.
Puma crewman flight sergeant Baz Reynolds, who evaluated the body armour, said the equipment provides an enhanced level of ballistic protection, and fitting and adjusting the jacket is a simple process.
"It’s quick and easy to put on too, which is especially important when you need to get airborne in a hurry," Reynolds added.
Under a separate £3.25m contract, ASE Corporate has delivered specialist lightweight eyewear and contact lenses to the pilots and crew members, who prefer wearing lenses to glasses.
The glasses feature flexible, polymer arms and lighter lenses to fully integrate with helmets and oxygen masks.
Other equipment include a flexible soled boots that provides pilots with greater sensitivity and contact with control pedals in aircraft.
72 (Reserve) Squadron flight lieutenant Calum Law, who tested the footwear, said the boots help pilots with accurate braking and rudder control in the aircraft.
"Outside the cockpit, they are good too because they give better grip and ankle support," Law added.