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UK troops to get new hi-tech body armour


London : Britain’s Ministry of Defence was reported Monday to have carried out development work on new battle uniforms following criticism over the lack of protection given to troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A total redesign of military fatigues will give soldiers a “head- to-toe integrated uniform, with all parts of the body being given new or additional protection against threats from high-velocity bullets and blast noise to mosquitoes,” according to the Times.

Criticism of the lack of protection of British troops has already led the MoD to send more heavily armoured vehicles to Iraq and Afghanistan after suffering many casualties from improvised roadside bombs.

Last week, the government announced that it would be sending 700 more to Afghanistan to replace Snatch Land Rovers at a cost of Pnds 700 million (Dlrs 1.5 billion).

As part of the new integrated uniform programme, called Project Pecoc, the Times said current ear plugs and large ear defenders, which soldiers often refuse to wear because they block out the sound of the human voice, will be replaced by a high-tech gadget.

The plan is to buy a digital hearing device that will fit into both ears and will be capable of reducing the impact of the loudest battlefield noises, such as explosions and heavy machinegun fire, but still allow the soldier to hear spoken commands, it said.

The multimillion-pound Project Pecoc, which started in 2004, was said to include a new helmet and fragmentation jacket and better eye protection. It is expected to be available for training purposes in 2010 and ready for operations in early 2011.

The new helmet, made of composite materials, understood to be being styled on the American model, with a flatter top and better all-round visibility. It will also have a fragmentation flap at the back to protect the neck.