British troops soon to get blast resistant goggles

UK troops will soon get sunglasses that can withstand a shotgun blast at almost point-blank range.

Updated: Apr 10, 2011, 18:22 PM IST

London: British troops fighting the Taliban
in Afghanistan will soon add new protective gears in their
kits -- special sunglasses and goggles that can withstand a
shotgun blast at almost point-blank range.

The Sawfly glasses and Bullet Ant goggles, which are
expected to protect the troops from dirt and debris thrown up
by roadside IED (improvised explosive devices) blasts, are
fitted with special lenses made from a secret compound.

Developed by Canadian military equipment firm Revision
the special eyewears will be issued to all British troops in
Afghanistan from September, the Daily Mail reported.

And the Ministry of Defence has ordered an initial 92,000
pairs costing about 3.4 million pounds, said the report.

Frontline soldiers are not allowed to wear fashionable
glasses as they do not provide enough protection.

Each pair of these military models costs just under 40
pounds -- up to a third of the cost of designer `shades.

Safety tests have revealed that the polycarbonate lenses
in the new sunglasses and goggles can resist the blast from a
12-gauge shotgun fired from just 16ft away.

In one experiment by the manufacturers, a shotgun was
fired at the glasses 37 times without the lenses being
penetrated once.

The glasses, which are already issued to US troops, come
with three interchangeable lenses -- plain, light-enhancing
and sun-resistant. They are also anti-fog, scratch-resistant
and provide unprecedented visual clarity.

"All troops in Afghanistan are issued with protective
eyewear as standard, and these are an enhancement," Colonel
Peter Rafferty, a spokesman for British Army, was quoted as
saying.

"In addition to the ballistic protection these items
offer, IEDs are a significant threat to our troops in
theatre," he said.

"The debris and dirt thrown up from a blast can be just
as harmful to troops as the initial blast. This eyewear is the
best chance they have of minimising injuries to the eyes while
still maintaining situational awareness and thus the ability
to do their jobs."

These new glasses will be the latest the troops will add
to their personal kit. Recently, they were issued upgraded
kneepads and protective combat gloves.

PTI