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Gilet de protection: A porter près du corps

Do air-gaps behind soft body armour affect protection?



Body armour typically comprises a fabric garment covering the torso combined with hard armour (ceramic/composite). Some users wear only soft armour which provides protection from sharp weapons and pistol ammunition. It is usually recommended that body armour is worn against the body with no air-gaps being present between the wearer and the armour. However, air-gaps can occur in certain situations such as females around the breasts, in badly fitting armour and where manufacturers have incorporated an air-gap claiming improvements in thermophysiological burden. The effect of an air-gap on the ballistic protection and the back face signature (BFS) as a result of a non-perforating ballistic impact was determined.


Armour panels representative of typical police armour (400x400 mm) were mounted on calibrated Roma Plastilina No 1 and impacted with 9 mm Luger FMJ (9×19 mm; full metal jacket; Dynamit Nobel DM11A1B2) ammunition at 365±10 m/s with a range of air-gaps(0-15 mm). Whether or not the ammunition perforated the armour was noted, the BFS was measured and the incidence of pencilling (a severe, deep and narrow BFS) was identified.


For 0° impacts, a critical air-gap size of 10 mm is detrimental to armour performance for the armour/ammunition combination assessed in this work. Specifically, the incidences of pencilling were more common with a 10 mm air-gap and resulted in BFS depth:volume ratios ≥1.0. For impacts at 30° the armour was susceptible to perforation irrespective of air-gap.




This work suggested that an air-gap behind police body armour might result in an increased likelihood of injury. It is recommended that body armour is worn with no air-gap underneath.

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