Further improvements to body armor for women in the UK Armed Forces

Announced on International Women’s Day, the body armor will be available to UK military personnel from April 2022 and has been improved as part of Defense’s drive to modernize and better recognize the diverse needs of all personnel serving in our ranks.

The armour, known as the Virtus Expandable Tactical Vest (STV), has been adapted following extensive testing with serving female soldiers, ensuring personnel have more suitable protective gear and demonstrate the Defence’s commitment to meeting the needs of the growing number of female soldiers.

Originally designed for those in close combat roles, the STV was primarily used by men. After opening up to women of all roles in the military, the new line of gear is part of our efforts to continuously improve the design of body armor for our soldiers, and to ensure that they are fit for purpose, improve comfort and continue the modernization of the British Army.

The updated protective equipment is the result of collaboration between several Department of Defense and industry organizations, including the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), Equipment and Support of defense (DE&S) and Source Tactical Gear (manufacturer of Virtus).

Brigadier Elizabeth Faithful-Davies said:

I am very pleased that we are continuing to roll out a wider range of combat apparel and new scalable tactical vest sizes for our duty personnel. Now that women are employed in all roles within the Army, it remains critically important that all of our equipment is designed to ensure that we can operate effectively and efficiently both in training and in overseas operations.

Minister of People’s Defense and Veterans Affairs, Leo Docherty said:

All roles within the military are open to women and we are committed to providing the best equipment to help them do their jobs.

This is one of many changes we have introduced to improve the experience of women in the armed forces. The new bulletproof vest and range of clothing sizes will increase the choice of our women in service.

Private Charmaine Cochrane, Queen’s Royal Hussars, British Army, said:

This new body armor has huge benefits for me and my fellow soldiers. The improved fit will help me move more freely and ultimately feel more confident to do my job better.

A new range of clothing is also appearing. The range is an improvement on the current offering with more sizes and changes to the fit of the garments for a more ergonomic and performance fit for all staff. There will be approximately 25 shirt sizes available. In comparison, most big box stores only carry 10 different sizes.

In addition to the new line of apparel, female Army recruits entering training also benefit from a professional sports bra fitting and distribution service.

Defense remains committed to improving the lives of women in its ranks and is committed to taking bold steps to ensure they have full, successful and varied military careers. This remains a top priority for Defense and is part of the government’s response to the Sarah Atherton report, titled ‘Protecting Those Who Protect Us: Women in the Armed Forces from Recruitment to Civilian Life’.