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Oct 14, 2011

Tactical military gear offers improved durability

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Imperial Armour MD Louisa Garland-Els and Chute Systems owner Douw Raimondo discuss the new Elite Force tactical military wear range. Cameraperson: Nicholas Boyd. Editing: Darlene Creamer.
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Elite Force, a new range of tactical military wear for urban warfare and covert special operations has been launched by military and security garment and gear manufacturer Imperial Armour and specialist airborne training and parachute equipment supplier Chute Systems.

Imperial Armour MD Louisa Garland-Els says the two companies partnered a year ago to develop the range, which was created using knowledge gained through years of research and development by both companies.

“When we were approached by Chute Systems, we already had four orders from it that included tactical suits, ballistic helmets and battle jackets, and it felt natural to form a partnership with them,” she adds.

Garland-Els says all equipment in the new range is parachute-jump tested, with most items undergoing in excess of 1 000 parachute jumps. This assists in locating weak points and improving quality.

She believes that this is proof of the range’s reliability and durability, which ensure maximum safety.

The Elite Force range com- prises three specialised divisions for bush, urban warfare and military free-fall applications.

Bush Soldier
Chute Systems coowner Douw Raimondo says the bush operations section of the range includes a 120 ℓ Bergen bag and chest webbing.

The battle jacket has pouches to hold a radio, extra ammunition and a water container.

Further, Garland-Els says the chest webbing can carry about six additional magazines, depending on which firearm it is custom-made for. In total, a soldier can carry 12 fully loaded magazines in the battle jacket and in the chest webbing.

The suit is complemented by equipment such as a 120 Bergen bag that is divided into three compartments for easy access to contents. The dividers can also be removed to insert larger items. For lengthy and remote operations, two 3 hydration pouches have been added on each side of the bag, which are chemical and biological warfare-approved.

“We developed the kit in cooperation with the South African Special Forces and Namibian Special Forces personnel,” Garland-Els notes.

Urban Warfare
Raimondo says that, for urban warfare applications, the range offers gear that allows for optimal safety, while ensuring maximum comfort.

A National Institute of Justice level IIIA ballistic helmet, safety goggles, fire-resistant Nomex face mask, and an urban combat bulletproof jacket that is worn under the chest webbing, offer maximum protection in explosions and gunfire from firearms including AK-47s.

He adds that, to carry additional equipment and ammunition, the bulletproof jacket is designed as a modular lightweight load-carrying equipment system.

A utility belt that houses a secondary weapon, a leg holster with Glock 17 pistol and leg utility pouch adds to this feature.

Further, an extraction harness under the urban battle jacket forms part of the system for activities such as abseiling and acts as a quick-release and hot extraction measure.

“When, for instance the webbing gets stuck, the person can instantly free himself or herself from the webbing by pulling a release-pouch,” he explains.

A 3 hydration system, a tactical weapon sling with MP5 assault rifle, a medical bag and tactical boots that are compatible for fast-roping exercises from helicop- ters, contribute to the kit’s comfort.
The military parachutist gear includes a free-fall jump composite helmet that is comfortable for high-altitude operations, safety goggles and a Tactical Assault 300 free-fall parachute from aeronautical company Zodiac Aerospace, also known as Parachute Industries of Southern Africa.

A twin-zip jump suit with zips that run down the front of the body and on the inside of the legs enables the person to get out of the suit quickly.

Extra padding on the shoulders and elbows further improves protection, while padded Petzl free-fall gloves protect the hands and still allow the use of a rifle.

Further, Raimondo says the Alti-3 free-fall altimeter complements the kit, as it indicates the altitude before parachute open- ing, which generally is about 914 m above ground level for military persons.


All material items in the Elite Force range are manufactured with 1 000 D-Codura nylon heavy-duty fabric, while everything is also 100% waterproof, bar-tacked and reinforced.

Garland-Els says the items are adaptable and can be custom-made to suit the needs of users.

Further, all kits are prescribed to be used with boots from South African safety footwear designer Magnum.


Besides the the Elite Force range, Imperial Armour has also launched its VIP and riot ranges.

Suitable for government Ministers and bodyguards, the range includes a textured bulletproof waistcoat and a bulletproof laptop bag with a holster inside.

Garland-Els says the development of the riot gear was motiv- ated by South African situations. The range consists of a black flight suit, a riot shield, gloves, a riot helmet, a visor, a baton and force boots.

Future
She is optimistic about the future as the companies have managed to secure a significant order for the Elite Force Bergen bags from the Namibian Ministry of Defense (MoD).

“Since completing the order with the Namibian MoD, we have secured further orders from the South African National Defence Force for our 120 Bergen bags,” she adds.

In terms of expanding its footprint locally and abroad, Garland-Els says Imperial Armour plans to penetrate the hunting industry in the near future. “We have experienced significant success in the other industries and believe the same success can be achieved in the hunting sector,” she concludes.

Edited by: Chanel de Bruyn
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