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BAE Systems begins making body armour that delivers power and data to soldiers.

BAE Systems is beginning production of its "revolutionary" body armour that provides power and data connections to soldiers when worn, it announced at the Farnborough Air Show last month.

Military forces around the world have embraced the use of electronic equipment such as night-vision goggles, thermal imaging, radios, GPS and drones.

However, the batteries required to power these devices add extra weight to the soldiers' packs.

Broadsword Spine body armour consists of an integrated battery pack, wire-free conductive textiles, and connectors able to supply or receive up to 5A of current while communicating data via USB. It is estimated that the body armour is 40% lighter than alternative solutions.

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Paul Burke, defence information and technology director at BAE Systems' Military Air and Information division, said: "Broadsword Spine will be more flexible, robust and lighter than the heavy harnesses currently used. It offers an open architecture, meaning it could be used to power communications used by anyone from a soldier on the battlefield to a first responder called to an emergency."

The body armour has been developed in partnership with Staines-based firm Intelligent Textiles Ltd (ITL) which developed the so-called "e-textile" that enables power and data to move through fabric. The two companies hope to develop versions for the fire services and police.

Asha Thompson, director and cofounder of ITL, said: "Our partnership with BAE Systems puts Broadsword Spine on a fast track to delivering benefits."

The armour's spine is a power and data manager which sends data through the e-textile and can be controlled via a smartphone app. ITL's e-textile technology involves flattening filaments from cables and incorporating them into the fabric with conductive yarns.

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Title Annotation:News & analysis
Publication:Professional Engineering Magazine
Date:Aug 1, 2016
Words:277
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