The days of boxy body protection will eventually be over for the United States' female warriors, as the nation's armed forces are developing a new style of form-fitting body armor similar to the busty bronze get-up worn by Xena: Warrior Princess, that curves at the chest and hips.
The armed services decided it's time to move beyond male-only body armor when female soldiers complained of discomfort and constricted blood flow from poorly-fitting armor that was too long in the front and rubbed on hips. The resulting discomfort impeded their mobility, ability to aim and ultimately effectiveness.
It became clear to us that there was a difference in torso length, Lt. Col. Frank Lozano, product manager for the Army's soldier protective equipment program, told the Christian Science Monitor. The other point that we realized is that there is a significant difference in shoulder width. I read this data, and it seems so obvious.
Form-fitting armor for women may seem like a rather simple task, but U.S. military officials told CSM the armor may be years from coming to fruition.
There are some complex curvatures that come into play with female hard-armor plates, Lozano said. I could make female hard armor, but it would be twice as heavy.
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The thickness of the armor, as well as its heft and lack of malleability, makes a one-size-fits-all option unfeasible, so the Army is currently seeking new materials that would provide the same level of protection but with a bit of give.
The army is currently testing designs made out of the still in-use materials, with female-friendly shapes. Lozano said the batch has gotten rave reviews from soldiers.