On the 18th November 1985 The Times Newspaper ran a story entitled ‘Troops to use Flak Jackets’:
The British army is for the first time planning to make widespread use of body armour or “flak jackets”, to protect soldiers against injury on active service.
Research shows that about 75 per cent of injuries in battle are caused by flying fragments rather than direct hits, and that modern body armour can stop up to three-quarters of these fragments.
It has been estimated that today’s body armour, using the material “Kevlar”, could have reduced American deaths in the Vietnam War by nearly a third.
The Army is evaluating various types of “flak jackets”, and Mr Norman Lamont, Minister of State for Defence, said in a written answer to Parliament on Friday it was hoped that the selected jacket would enter service from 1989.
The design finally agreed upon was a light weight set of body armour in a DPM cover known as ‘Combat Body Armour’ or CBA:On the chest of the body armour are two pockets, a large one on the left hand breast of the wearer:And a smaller one on the right:These both have Velcro flaps and an elasticated top edge:The front of the armour is secured by two overlapping flaps and Velcro:Whilst more Velcro is used on the sides to allow the armour to be adjusted to better fit the wearer:These straps pass round to the back and through plastic loops:Note the cut off strap on the top webbing band in the photograph above, this was for a further strap that could be passed through a belt on the soldiers waist to stop the armour riding up. This feature seems to have been rarely used as it made it much harder to get the armour on and off quickly. Inside the CBA is a faded label indicating the cover is made of DPM fabric and washing instructions:Just below this is a Velcro opening that allows the ballistic filler to be removed when the cover is laundered. The filler has its own label, visible through this opening:This armour first began to be issued to troops in the run up to the First Gulf War, with front line troops having priority. Whilst it is effective against fragmentation and secondary impacts, it offers no protection against bullets and a redesigned cover was developed with pockets for ceramic plate armour over the hear- known as the Enhanced Combat Body Armour (ECBA)- the CBA either being modified or replaced. These sets of body armour are thus some of the easiest to find at the moment and can be easily bought for under twenty pounds (the ECBA is more expensive due to the plates), this set cost me £10 from eBay.