Effects of body armour on soldier's physical load and performance
Publish date: 2002-01-01
Report number: FOI-R--0563--SE
Written in: Swedish
The literature survey focuses on the effect of body armour on the soldier´s physical and mental strain and performance as well as risk of injury. The ideal body armour covers the entire body surface, has a protection level sufficient to stop high velocity bullets, is light, flexible and disturbs not the human heat balance. Such a body armour is unrealistic, so far. An important issue is how to design a body armour giving both sufficient protection and wear acceptance. According to the literature a body armour is characterised as: It a) reduces the risk of injury at hit, b) if hit the injury might be less serious, c) has sometimes low wear acceptance, d) is less flexible if parts are overlapping, e) results in physical and sometimes, mental loads, f) reinforced with (ceramic) plates increases the load, g) may affect lung ventilation, h) often increases metabolic heat production, i) often increases human heat load, j) often increases water consumption, k) "ventilation" does not improve thermal comfort, l) impairs performance of backpack hip belt, m) impairs movability, n) may impair the combat effectiveness. Body armour (passive protection) has negative effects on movability and physical endurance (active protection) increasing the exposure to enemy fire. Generally, the better body armour the worse impact on human performance. A goal is to find the optimum combination of active and passive protection. Probably, this will not be the same for different threats and environments. An important part of future development of body armour is to identify what design gives sufficient protection to reduce the number and type of injuries that is acceptable to the individual and the armed forces.