In 2010 the Irish Army updated a lot of its camouflage uniforms to new patterns, but the Irish soldier would have to wait until 2012 for the first trials of an issue Under Body Armour Combat Shirt. The Irish Army’s deployment to Chad a few years earlier had highlighted the need for a dedicated UBACS shirt and the units deployed at the time had got examples made up locally and outside the Army’s procurement system by a tailor in Newbridge. The 2012 trials were clearly successful though as the UBACS shirts were introduced as a standard piece of combat clothing and examples issued to the men and women who needed them. There are a number of patterns of UBACS that have been produced, today we are looking at an example from 2014:
Unlike later production examples, the chest of this UBACS is printed in the DPM fabric as well as the arms. The neck of the shirt secures with a short zip with a little tab to go over the zip so it doesn’t rub against the wearer’s chin:
The arms of the UBACS have velcroed pockets on the forearms to fit a piece of heavy padding inside to make it more comfortable when lying prone and holding a rifle:
The pockets allow this to be removed if preferred and the sleeves rolled up. The cuffs are secured with buttons and a tab:
A large pocket is fitted to the top of each arm, with a top flap secured with two pieces of velcro. On the outside of this is a large panel of the loop fabric part of Velcro that allows insignia to be attached and removed as required:
In this case the rank worn is of a 3 star private, embroidered in the subdued colours used on combat clothing:
Like a lot of Irish Army clothing, this shirt was made by the Belgian company Seyntex:
These early Irish UBACS were not perfect, they were made with a relatively high proportion of polyester and it was not treated to make it fire resistant so if any flammable liquids were thrown at wearers in a riot, or if an IED went off there was a danger the shirt would catch fire or melt onto the skin. Other problems that arose with the shirts were based of the Irish doctrine of issuing the shirts and body armour in temperate climates. The UBACS shirt was originally designed for use in the desert by British and US troops amongst others and it does an excellent job in this climate, however when worn in a cold and rainy climate such as Ireland it was found to be too cold and t-shirts etc. had to be worn under it to keep warm when a normal smock would have been a far better choice as described by one Irish soldier:
UBACS were originally intended by the people we copied them off as a Hot climate issue only with the PCS Jkt intended for use with Armour in temperate conditions, with layers underneath as required. We never followed that logic. So IOT not freeze our nuts off during the colder seasons the practice has crept in here of wearing t-shirts, both long and short sleeve, under the UBACS. Which totally defeats the idea of a sweat wicking garment that is supposed to be worn next to the skin.
Paddy the pig at his best.