Air Force to provide better-fitting bulletproof vests for female defenders > Air Force Materiel Command > View Article

An Air Force Life Cycle Management Center initiative will provide new bulletproof vests to female defenders across the service, with defenders from the 55th Security Forces Squadron at Offutt Air Force Base recently receiving their new bulletproof vests.

For many years, female Defence Force personnel have worn standard issued tactical vests. These standard vests vary in chest size and are generally flattering. They were not designed with the female anatomy in mind.

“Standard vests are very loose, and when you’re in a running situation, they don’t fit well and can easily move and sway,” said Lt. Madison Wilke, 55th Special Forces training officer. said. “The standard vest didn’t feel any pressure or constriction on the upper chest.”

In June 2020, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Female Fit Program awarded a contract to TSSi, Harrisburg, Virginia, to design and manufacture a better-fitting vest for women to protect them from the hazards of combat and everyday operations.

The new bulletproof vests cost approximately $1,200 per vest. One hundred new vests arrived at the 55th Logistics Readiness Squadron on April 29 and are set to be issued to Offutt’s 25 female defenders in late May 2021.

“The fit is snug,” said Airman 1st Class Samantha Boyer, 55th SFS Defender. “It feels like the top of the vest is a little more encased.”

The new vest is available in sizes S, M, L, and XL, and has a curved chest plate to suit a woman’s body shape. It is adjustable and has a snap buckle instead of Velcro. It’s well padded and has the option to adjust for a better fit.

“The new vest fits really well,” Wilk said. “Now when I run in conditions I don’t have to worry about the vest swinging around.”

Female Defenders will have the option to switch to the new armor or stick with their standard vests, which are considered a “home station issue” item, so all currently deployed women will be able to wear the new item once they return to Offutt.

Wearing properly fitted safety gear is important to the health, comfort and safety of everyday tasks such as driving a patrol car, guarding gates and aircraft at Offutt, and handling military working dogs. These situations require flexibility and quick reaction movements to allow defenders to do their jobs and maintain the overall mission.

“It definitely feels a little bit more protected, and it’s shaped to form a close fit,” Boyer said. “It’s very thoughtful of the Air Force to do something like this for women. It makes our lives easier.”

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