In 2005 the British Army placed orders with Revision Eyewear Inc of Canada for eyewear for its troops. Two models of eye protection were introduced, the Bullet Ant and the Sawfly and it is the latter we are looking at today:
The company’s own press release at the time described the Sawfly as:
The Sawfly™ military eyewear system was specifically developed for battlefield deployment. The Sawfly™ system consists of high-impact, easily interchangeable one-piece protective polycarbonate lenses (‘clear’ for nocturnal and indoor use, ‘solar’ to reduce outdoor glare and ‘low-light’ to provide high contrast in cloudy or hazy conditions). Lenses lock into a slimline frame with microslot adjustable arms, provide 100% UV protection and have scratch-resistance coating on both sides.
The Sawfly eye protection protected the wearer from fragments thrown up on the battlefield and when tested was found to remain intact even after being struck by seventeen pellets fired from a shotgun!
The eyewear comes in a black nylon carrying pouch which holds the glasses and the spare lenses. It is fitted with loops on the rear to allow it to be carried on a belt and a spring clip to allow it to be fastened to other items of equipment:
The lenses clip into the top of the frame and are held securely in place:
The example fitted above is the darkened set for sunny conditions. The other two are clear for standard light and a yellowed example for low light conditions:
Revision were clearly quite pleased to get the contract as they explained at the time:
“Revision is very proud to be providing protective eyewear systems to the British Army,” said Jonathan Blanshay, CEO, Revision Eyewear. “Our commitment to delivering the highest levels of ocular protection available has now been recognized by one of the best-equipped armies in Europe. Several other NATO armed forces are currently evaluating our products and we look forward to establishing Revision as the standard for military eyewear systems worldwide,” Mr. Blanshay added.
It was reported in 2011 that the British Army had ordered 92,000 pairs of the Sawfly and Bullet Ant eyewear at a cost of £3.4 million, each pair costing around £40 each. Colonel Rafferty of the British Army explained why they were needed:
‘In addition to the ballistic protection these items offer, IEDs are a significant threat to our troops in theatre. The debris and dirt thrown up from a blast can be just as harmful to troops as the initial blast. This eyewear is the best chance they have of minimising injuries to the eyes while still maintaining situational awareness and thus the ability to do their jobs.’
The Sawfly was to see extensive use in Afghanistan by British troops and no doubt helped protect the sight of many soldiers who came under IED attack as part of their tour of duty.