Female soldiers in the U.S. Army have spent years fighting on modern battlefields with body armor designed for men. But the Army plans to change that poor-fitting scenario by field-testing new female body armor starting next summer.
Male body armor poses problems well beyond fashion sense for the 14% of the Army that consists of female soldiers — the male body armor's broad shoulders restrict their arm movements and the front armor plate's length cuts into leg circulation when they sit. That led the Army's Program Executive Office (PEO) to begin making female body armor prototypes based on sizing and fitting tests.
"Most females tend to have a narrow or thinner waist as it relates to the chest area, so we pulled the waist area in," said Lt. Col. Frank J. Lozano, the product manager for Soldier Protective Equipment. "Some women will want more room in the waist area, so we allowed for adjustability in the cummerbund in the back, which can be pulled in tighter or let out more than on the standard [Improved Outer Tactical Vest]."
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