The Mk 2 Body armour, or Improved Northern Ireland Body Armour was developed in the 1980s for use in Northern Ireland as a protection against bomb fragments, hand gun rounds and to some extent sniper rounds aimed at the heart. The armour was designed to be worn under a smock to both conceal it and to present a less intimidating look to the local population troops were supposed to be supporting. The body armour used a Kevlar vest and two ceramic plates carried inside a cloth cover in dark green and it is this cover we are looking at today:
The Fragmentation Vest is put on over the head and secured by Velcro at one side. It protects most of the upper torso – all around the sides (high under the arm), and over the shoulders:
The complete MK-2 Body Armour comprises a Kevlar ballistic filler in an outer carrier. The multiple layer Kevlar ballistic filler is sealed in a cover, and removable from the outer carrier via a Velcro opening at the bottom of the vest:
The outer carrier is olive green polycotton and has pockets front and back for ceramic plates.
These pockets are accessed by two Velcro tabs that allow the ceramic plate to be inserted or removed. The front example also has a small pocket, accessible by a pair of vertical zips:
The plates used with the INIBA are not the same size as the later CBA plates The cover has a pair of labels, now very washed out, which give instructions on how to fit the fillers and wear the armour:
The covers were also fitted with labels on the front of the shoulders instructing medics how to cut them off in emergency. These labels do not survive well as they were on the outside of the cover and this example has suffered over the years:
The Mk 2 INIBA was on limited issue and would be replaced by CBA and ECBA in the 1990s, when the army moved from only issuing body armour to those deployed to Northern Ireland to the use of body armour becoming pretty universal for all troops in all potential areas of threat. ARRSEpedia in its usual irreverent style sums up how the average squaddie felt about the set of armour:
Improved Northern Ireland Body Amour. Introduced in the 1980s for use in Northern Ireland this Body Armour was worn under the combat jacket so as not look too obtrusive to the local population. As if a bunch of blokes walking down the street, dressed in combats and carrying rifles isn’t obtrusive in itself.
Traditionally, INIBA jackets were never laundered meaning that, even if it didn’t stop a bullet, the accumulated DNA content allowed the bullethole to heal over, making them the world’s first self-repairing body-armour.
INIBA vests had an additional benefit, in that they made even the weediest looking soldier look like Garth, whilst the more muscular squaddie appeared slightly more intimidating than King Kong in a bad mood.