The soldier's survivability can be improved with
superior bullet-proof ballistic protection, mobility and firepower, employed at
extended standoff range. Modern, light weight body armor and helmets
are currently available, offering more protection against multiple
hits from small arms and shrapnel.
Helmets constructed from advanced bullet proof composite materials
have become much lighter and offer improved protection and comfort.
Advanced features include integrated headgear such as osteo-phone,
helmet mounted displays and vision systems. As head mounted gear
becomes lighter, more instruments are placed on the helmet, offering
unrestricted hemispherical view for visual sensors, GPS receivers
and RF (radio) communications. While helmet mounted electronics
require power, which ads significant weight to the headgear. Use of
system miniaturization, power management and wireless networking
(Bluetooth) enables designers to optimally distribute weight on the
helmet and upper body adding to the wearer's personal comfort.
Modern body armor is designed as flexible mission adaptable suit.
The flexible vest is relatively lightweight, made of composite
bullet proof materials such as the Kevlar body armor, providing basic
protection from shrapnel and low-speed small-arms threats, to the
upper body. The vest is fitted with pockets where inserts made of
harder, heavier ceramic materials can be
inserted as armor tiles. These inserts
provide higher levels of protection, as required by the expected
threat level. (7.62AP, 9mm etc). Apart from protection, ergonomics
present significant factors in bulletproof vest design. The
bullet-proof vest adds substantial weight to the soldier's load.
A vital element in the soldier's survivability is camouflage.
Uniform design patterns are currently designed to merge with various
environments. Offered in basic families of European, Arctic (snow),
desert and urban designs, camouflage patterns enable effective
blending with surrounding environments. Camouflage suits are also
provided for snipers and special-forces requiring higher
performance. As operations are shifting to night time, patterns must
match requirements for night combat maintaining effective camouflage
in darkness, under visibility by Imaging Infrared or thermal
equipment. Signature reduction is also considered essential for
concealment of body heat, as it is viewed by thermal sensors and
Due to technological limitations, dedicated protection suits are
developed and used for specific operational conditions. For example,
add-on Chemical Bacteriological Radiological (CBR) protection suits
are worn when potential threats are expected. These suits
considerably limit the soldier's mobility and comfort and are only
used temporarily. Ballistic shields and bullet proof vests are
common add-on elements to infantry suits; however, they are not yet
integrated with load bearing vests (combat webbing) due to
ergonomic, logistical and cost considerations. While such
integration is technologically feasible and could save some weight,
it turns the load bearing vest from a relatively simple lightweight
textile product into a composite-made protection system with a
proportional price tag.