Women are now allowed to serve in combat roles, so the military is designing new combat gear, and also redesigning current gear to fit female soldiers.
On Tuesday, Ashton Baldwin Carter, the United States Secretary of Defense, instructed the US military to make combat roles available to women. However, this decision sparked an interesting question: how should female soldiers, who serve in combat roles, be equipped and outfitted?
Body armour designed to protect a man’s lower body from shockwaves will not do the same thing for women, and tactical vests for the upper body will probably fit women poorly, making it challenging for them to move around, aim a riffle, or crouch.
Some of the military branches – that have anticipated this change – have already started designing new combat gear to fit a wide variety of body types.
Since 2013, the United States Army – the largest branch of the United States Armed Forces – has allowed female soldiers to serve in combat roles. It has also issued an Improved Outer Tactical Vest (IOTV) for women in 2012. The vest includes waist and shoulder adjustability, tapered structure, and an improved collar that would not get caught in longer hair.
The Soldier Protection System (SPS) prototype shall also be redesigned to fit women. Soldier Protection System is a next-generation military gear designed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), along with eight commercial partners such as Ceradyne Inc. (subsidiary of 3M), and the United States Army.
The DARPA Soldier Protection System is a suit of hardened but, at the same time, lightweight body armour material systems that can protect soldiers from sharp objects, bullets, and fires. The Soldier Protection System includes combat eyewear that can go from outdoor mode to indoor mode in less than a second, and the SPS can also monitor the soldiers’ health.
The final Soldier Protection System is expected to be launched in 2016. The product will fit 94 percent of both women and men, except for those who have either very small frames, or very large frames.
Currently, soldiers have to wear 120 pounds’ worth of gear (54.4 kilograms), which can be very tiring especially during missions. To make life easier for soldiers, the Soldier Protection System uses lighter materials that offer the same protection as ceramic or steel plates. The SPS armour will be lighter and more flexible than current armour, and it will also fit both female and male soldiers.
Image Source: The Daily Sheeple