Earlier this year we looked at the Combat Body Armour (CBA) here, the first body armour to see general service amongst British troops. It quickly became apparent that improvements needed to be made to protect the heart and a revised cover was produced from 1991 onwards that had two pockets, one front and one on the rear, to fit ceramic plates. This design became known as the ‘Enhanced Combat Body Armour’ or ECBA, the name referring to the combination of filler, cover and plates. There are a number of different marks of this body armour cover and today we are looking at one of these in desert DPM:This is a post-2000 example of the cover as can be seen from the plate pocket:Not only is there a CS-95 style rank slide:But the bottom corners of the pocket have been reinforced to reduce wear:This cover has clearly been used as the original owner has written on in marker his service number, rank (lance corporal), UK and his blood group ‘O+’:The rear of the body armour has a second pocket, reinforced like the front:Inside a label provides sizing and care instructions and has the original owner’s name and number written on:ECBA used on Operation Telic cost the British Government £167.70 a set, and over £2 million pounds was spent on body armour for this conflict. Ironically these sets now sell for a few pounds, albeit without the plates like this set. The value of body armour can be seen in this (American) report for their equivalent armour:
Enhanced Combat Body Armour provided personnel with significant levels of protection. Initial analysis of data from the operation by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) has indicated that body armour reduced the number of US forces killed in action from torso wounds by at least 50% (possibly up to 90%), and those killed in action overall by over 20% (possibly up to 32%).
Although rapidly superseded on operations by better equipment, ECBA continues to be used in training and for non-front-line troops and is a common sight in pictures from the early days of the ‘War on Terror’.