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NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Monday, July 9, 2012, 7:37 PM
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“Honey, does this outfit make me look deadly?” The U.S. military is starting to design new body armor for female soldiers with “Xena: Warrior Princess” in mind. First to model the fashions in the field are the women of the 101st Airborne.
The U.S. military has some unlikely inspiration for new body armor for female soldiers: “Xena: Warrior Princess.”
Army engineers are heading to the drawing board with the Lucy Lawless character in mind, designing new gear for women in the field that better fits the curves of the female shape, the Christian Science Monitor reports.
The military decided to start reimagining the body armor in 2009, when women of the 101st Airborne division went to war and felt uncomfortable in the Army-provided gear.
“It rubbed on the hips, and the vests were too long in the front, so that when you had female soldiers climbing stairs or climbing up a hill or a tree, or sitting for a long time in a vehicle, that would create pressure points that in some instances could impact blood flow and cause some discomfort,” Lt. Col. Frank Lozan, who is helping design the body armor, told the Monitor.
A subsequent study by the U.S. Army found that the ill-fitting gear actually interfered with how the women were able to perform during combat, making “it difficult for them to properly aim their weapons and enter or exit vehicles.”
Engineers, however, say that designing new female body armor is not as easy as it looks on television.
Lozono explained that the armor the Army now uses gets heavier as curving increases, so engineers are looking to develop “unique chemical designs” to create lighter plates.
“There are some complex curvatures that come into play with female hard-armor plates,” Lozano said. “I could make female hard-armor, but it would be twice as heavy.”
For now, female soldiers can choose from 11 different male body-armor sizes.
The Army is currently testing eight additional sizes, designed specifically to fit a woman.
The new prototypes include more-narrow shoulders and “bra-shaped darting” in the chest.
About 100 female soldiers in the 101st Airborne Division have begun testing the new gear — and love it.
“They say, ‘I could wear this all day,’ ‘I could run a marathon in this,’ and ‘It feels much lighter,’ even though it really isn’t any lighter,” Lozano added.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/hip-huggers-heavy-hitters-military-gals-armor-inspired-xena-article-1.1110921#ixzz20E4l0UrW