British Army unveils new equipment for infantrymen

21 09 2008

From the Mail Online

By Matthew Hickley

Last updated at 2:29 AM on 19th September 2008

Army equipment

Equipment of the future: The British Army has unveiled the new kit which will go into service in months

He’s deadlier, lighter, more streamlined and better protected – and he’s wearing the latest stylish four-colour camouflage pattern with matching two-tone Union Jack insignia and coral sunglasses.

The British Army has unveiled its latest state-of-the-art equipment for combat infantrymen, which will enter service with troops fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq within months.

Out goes the familiar and distinctive ‘pudding bowl’ shaped helmet worn by Britain’s soldiers for 20 years, and in comes a new shape more akin to today’s U.S. Army helmet, or the Second World War German design – offering improved neck movement and more space to fit a rifle sight to the eye.

The new colour scheme has nothing to do with fashion and everything to do with new high-tech fabric dyes which maintain camouflage properties when viewed through infra-red night sights, and combine traditional desert colours with pale green shades – suited to the semi-desert environments where many of today’s battles are fought.

Five years after the Daily Mail first exposed the Army’s notorious melting desert boots and shortages of basic equipment on the eve of the 2003 Iraq invasion, senior military commanders insist the situation has been transformed for the better.

The Treasury has spent £1billion a year on the ‘Urgent Operational Requirement’ programme – rushing new kit into service in Iraq and Afghanistan when existing equipment proves to be dangerously inadequate – delivering a range of new armoured vehicles, weapons and clothing.

While shortages remain, and commanders remain frustrated by the need for more protected vehicles and helicopters, frontline troops acknowledge the improvements in personal equipment.

The new infantryman’s kit is known as project PECOC – Personal Equipment Common Operating Clothing – and is in the final stages of assessment before being issued to troops deploying on combat operations.

Designers are struggling to save weight across the board, because of recent feedback from commanders in Afghanistan warning that today’s infanteer is being expected to carry too much weight, often approaching 150lb of weaponry, armour, ammunition, food and a host of gadgets – ‘like going to work carrying your wife on your back’ as one soldier described it.

In soaring summer temperatures of 50 degrees centigrade, foot patrols are having to be equipped with more quad bikes and trailers to take some of the burden, and to help evacuate wounded troops.

(Lto R) SA80 weapon and kit prior to 2003, the current attire and a soldier wearing a trial outfit

British Army gear through the ages: (Lto R) SA80 weapon and kit prior to 2003, the current attire and a soldier wearing a trial outfit

Major Richard Coomber of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, requirements manager for the PECOC programme, said: ‘We have scoured the world for the best materials.

There is no magic secret to saving weight. We have to get the integration of all the different items right, starting with body armour plates which are thinner but tougher, and better designed to fit with webbing, packs, and weapons.

‘We spent a lot of time talking to troops who are using the existing equipment on operations.

‘The result is a system designed to fit together, and to be as flexible as possible, so the soldier can adapt it to the job he’s doing.’

The new clothing features removable padding inserts at the knees and elbows, and new ‘coral-coloured’ ballistic eye protectors, which give better colour perception than existing sunglasses.

The distinctive black-and-green Union Flag insignia offers better camouflage in daylight, but is also clearly identifiable through night-vision goggles, helping troops recognise each other during night battles.

Weaponry is constantly being upgraded, and the SA-80A2 assault rifle – which appears finally to have shaken off its unreliable reputation – is now fitted with an underslung grenade launcher and improved sights.

At a facility to show off the new kit on Salisbury Plain today Major General Bill Moore, Director General Logistic Support and Equipment for Land Forces, told the Mail that speed was the key to the Urgent Operational Requirement system.

He said: ‘In peacetime you can afford to spend five or ten years getting the reliability of your new tank just right, but in wartime we take a bit more risk with getting new equipment into service fast.

‘I think the next big thing for us is reducing weight for infantrymen, to make them more agile.

‘If we can make electrical batteries smaller and lighter, we will make progress.

‘We want to give the guys more options as to how much heavy protection they wear, depending on the threat and the task.’


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17 responses

25 09 2008
ian fauset

The usual disingenous guff from MoD. What they don’t say is that “PECOC”, under the unfortunate name “Crusader 2000”, was meant to enter service in …….. 2000. 8 years late. Not bad going I suppose, although it looks like PECOC is a very diluted version of C2000.

25 09 2008
domhyde

“PECOC”, under the unfortunate name “Crusader 2000″, was meant to enter service in …….. 2000

Are you sure Ian? Any links or references to back up your assertion?

1 10 2008
Allan

The new pattern looks a lot like the three tone desert DPM I was told about one and a half years ago that would be replacing the two tone desert DPM although it has drab shades of sand and brown and not bright shades.
The new pattern looks like it has three colours and not four.

07/11/1995
DCTA wrote
“The next change is likely to take place in the year 2005 with research and development work starting about 5 years previously.”

4 10 2008
matt

so is pecoc almost a certanty then, as im impressed with the kit shown, also its badly needed.

2 12 2008
PECOC update « The Camo Side of Dominic Hyde

[…] 2 12 2008 A couple of months back I ran a piece from the Mail Online about the British Army’s Personal Equipment Common Operational Clothing (PECOC) project. Seems a little more info has surfaced on the web, and the guys at Soldier Systems were […]

8 12 2008
Nigel

As always too little too late. This gear was needed long ago and more to the fact that the Brit Mil is so far behind other nations when it comes to weapons and personal equipment for individual soldiers and fire teams. Lets just see how long it takes to bring this line out to front line troops, it will most likely be worn around barracks in the UK should it come for some time. Good design well thought out as multi enviroment uniform much just like the Multicam design and I think it will be succesfull.

16 01 2009
ian fauset

“PECOC”, under the unfortunate name “Crusader 2000″, was meant to enter service in …….. 2000

Are you sure Ian? Any links or references to back up your assertion?

Are you querying the existence of Crusader in the first place, its notional ISD or the fact PECOC seems a diluted version? Not trying to be funny.

If you list all the attributes of PECOC mentioned in the article, they do not include many of the aspirations from the late 90s; which is why I say “diluted”. It’s also notable that many of the points discussed are not the responsibility of the PECOC programme, so wrongly giving the impression PECOC is more than it really is. General Moore’s comments refer to a completely different programme!

22 01 2009
domhyde

@ Ian: I’ve never heard of a project called “Crusader 2000”, and I would be very surprised if requirements proposed 10 or more years ago are still relevant for the operations we now find ourselves involved in. The big noise about PECOC is the research into, and feedback from, the end user: that is news from an organisation that has generally had a “put up or shut up” attitude.

The other project, which overlaps with PECOC, is FIST (Future Integrated Soldier Technology), which is your whole ‘networked’ infantryman plugged into various expensive and temperamental or delicate tactical aids.

Where the confusion possibly occurs is when items are purchased under Urgent Operational Requirements (such as the Rail Interface System (RIS) for rifles, which allows users to mount accessories such as torches and laser pointers on the foregrip) which fall into part of the remit of either program. Events have caught up with the procurement process and given it a swift kick up the R&D.

28 02 2009
M . Delargy

Cynical me (ex army)

It all looks great on paper, very pretty photo’s. But by the time our troop’s get this new equipment (IE, once those in charge, M.O.D. whatever, money, money, money) It will be redundant.

Great men, rubbish equipment. Always out of date with times.

Respect Malcolm

6 04 2009
domhyde

Ian, I found a New Scientist article about ‘Crusader 21’ while housekeeping my hard drive. It’s dated to July 1996 and looks to be the program you were referring to. If you’re interested in reading it, email me at dom@hydedefinition.com

20 12 2009
multi terrain pattern camouflage for british armed forces « The Camo Side of Dominic Hyde

[…] was created by the Personal Equipment and Common Operational Clothing (PECOC)  program, which, as this blog reported, looked all set to introduce a family of far less radical DPM derivatives in to service. The […]

3 01 2010
Chris

but then they went with a rip off of multicam, why didnt they get you to design it dom. sure you’d have done better.

3 01 2010
Chris

If they weren’t going to go digital.they should have used woodland dpm as a base then used the 2 colours from desert dpm and put the lighter one where the green is in woodland dpm and the darker one where the brown is in woodland dpm.then use the brown and green to replace the areas of tan and black respectively on the woodland base thus removing these 2 colours altogether. a cheaply designed afghan cam that people will recognise as british instead of them thinking why couldn’t they design their own and had to nick multicam.

3 01 2010
Chris

sorry the lighter desert tan where the brown is in woodland dpm I meant so that there’s slighty more of it.

22 03 2010
dave

Crusader 2000 or soldier 2000 as some people have spoke of is a myth. the new DPM is just a 4 colour pattern rather than three on the same cut and style uniform. the reason for this is the current affairs in afghan and that the country is not just one colour, its now a hell of alot diverse when going from a taned typical desert compound to an area with charcteristics such as the green zone in helmand. it means less time is spent on having to re-apply foreign camoflage such as vegtation, and more time can be spent on looking out for the rest of your section, the area in the diarections around you and most importantly at this present time, where you are placing your feet. this new kit will save lives.

2 01 2011
2010 in review « The Camo Side of Dominic Hyde

[…] British Army unveils new equipment for infantrymen September 2008 15 comments 4 […]

12 03 2012
martin edwards

come on british gov shame on you lot big time look after our great soldiers give them the up to date kit they need you lot are a laughing stock what if you had family in forces you would want them to have latest kit wake up brit gov ernment its 2012 not1960s

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