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Combat Body Armour

Combat body armour

Troops fighting on the front line are issued with Combat Body Armour which can be further reinforced with ceramic armour plates (enhanced body armour). A new body armour system, Virtus, is currently in development.

Osprey assault body armour

Osprey assault body armour provides excellent ballistic protection, while improving the comfort of personnel in a combat role.

The Osprey Assault body armour has all the stopping power of the original Osprey but is closer fitting. It includes improved rubber mouldings on the shoulders, designed to prevent heavy rucksacks and weapons from slipping.

There are elastic draw-cords on the detachable ammunition pouches, giving troops a more accessible alternative to velcro and the protective breast plate is now carried in a pocket inside the armoured vest, making it less bulky and obstructive to movement.


The new Virtus system uses the latest materials and offers the same protection as Osprey body armour but is significantly lighter, moves with the body more easily and produces a slimmer profile. The amount of protection employed can be scaled up or down to match the type of threat by adding or removing soft armour pads and hard ballistic plates. It is compatible with both Osprey and Enhanced Combat Body Armour.

A new, lighter helmet will provide increased blunt impact protection, face and mandible guards for certain roles and a shape that is designed to work with the armour and daysack so weapons can be comfortably used even in a prone position.

One of the most radical innovations is an integral ‘spine’ – the ‘dynamic weight distribution’ system. The device is linked to the user’s waist belt and helps spread the load of the body armour, a Bergen or daysack across the back, shoulders and hips.

The system also employs a new quick-release mechanism – a pin positioned on the chest that when pulled releases the entire body kit.

Infantry troops are set to benefit from a new body armour system which will increase agility and make it easier to carry heavy kit.

Virtus Scalable Tactical Vest (STV)

  • The Scalable Tactical Vest (STV) can be used for load carriage without any armour; as a fragmentation vest with soft armour padding consisting of a composite granular material but no hard plates; as a plate carrier with no soft armour; or as a full body armour system with soft and hard armour. It is compatible with both Osprey and Enhanced Combat Body Armour. Any combination of front, rear or side plates can be employed.
  • The STV comes in seven different sizes for a tailored fit. Chest size and torso length instead of height are now used for measuring. Modified lower profile soft armour further reduces the bulk when compared with Osprey, allowing for more agility.
  • The quick-release pin allows the STV to be removed in a couple of seconds with one pull. This applies when it is used in any of its configurations.
    A lightweight webbing system is designed to be worn under and integrated with the body armour.
  • Both the daysack and Bergen are fully integrated with the rest of the torso sub-system. This ensures that they are carried close to the body preventing excessive movement of the load but without pushing the rear ballistic plate into the body. Both can be used in conjunction with the dynamic weight distribution system.
  • Pouches are made from one piece of fabric and fold flat when empty, minimising profile and the possibility of snagging.
  • The dynamic weight distribution system contains a hard spine that takes the load and is linked to a hip belt. This allows the soldier to transfer the weight of his load from the shoulders to the hips or the other way via an adjuster positioned in the small of the back.
  • Troops and equipment need to be sized correctly for the DWD to be effective. It is estimated that personnel will need a day’s worth of training and familiarisation with the kit.

The Virtus helmet

  • The Virtus helmet has a fixed shroud for the mounting of night vision goggles and a counterweight for neck comfort.
  • Its fit can be easily adjusted in the same way as modern cycling and climbing helmets.
  • The sculpted rear (see above) prevents interference with body armour or daysack when adopting a prone fire position.
  • It provides more protection to the side of the head and is 350g lighter than the Mk7 it succeeds.
  • The helmet can be fitted with both mandible guard and visor, or either, which provide face protection for crews in open vehicles such as Jackal or WMIK.