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Tuesday, 23 August 2011
Page: 9130

Defence: Protection Equipment

(Question No. 382)

Mr Robert asked the Minister for Defence, in writing, on 25 May 2011:

Is Defence acquiring add-on extremity protection for soldiers, specifically to protect the pelvic area and groin; if so, is this part of (a) an existing, (b) a new, or (c) any other, personal protective equipment acquisition program; if not, will he consider acquiring such protection for soldiers.

Mr Stephen Smith: The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

Yes. Defence is examining pelvic and groin protection equipment as part of a broad program responsible for the development and delivery of a new soldier combat ensemble that includes body armour, load carriage systems and personal protection equipment.

The Modular Combat Body Armour System issued to some personnel deployed to the Middle East, Timor Leste and Solomon Island areas of operations includes an add-on groin protection apron. This can be worn when required and on the direction of in-theatre commanders

With the roll out of the Tiered Body Armour System, other options to improve pelvic and groin protection are being acquired and further investigated. Defence has begun a trial of a tiered pelvic protection system currently used by the British Army in Afghanistan. The first tier is a light weight garment that is worn as protective underwear. It is designed to help protect the groin areas from the fine dirt and shrapnel particles that result from explosions. Personnel in Afghanistan will be issued with this protective underwear by November this year. Sufficient stocks are being procured to issue to the next rotation of troops occurring in early 2012.

The second tier is a heavier and more rigid ballistic groin protection system worn on the outside of the combat uniform and is designed to provide increased protection against larger shrapnel fragments. It can be worn together with the protective underwear or separately. A small number have been purchased and will be provided to Mentoring Task Force Three this month as part of a trial to obtain user feedback on the performance and ability to integrate with the current soldier combat ensemble.

Based on results of the trial, a wider acquisition of pelvic protection systems is likely to be conducted