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97 SFS receives female body armor

two police officers stand next to each other.

Airman First Class Natasha Birch, 97th Security Forces Squadron (SFS) response force member and Investigator Allison Schaecher, 97th SFS Investigations Office member, pose with their new Female Body Armor, March 11, 2021, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. The new FBA will include hard armor protection of vital organs (heart, liver, lungs, and kidneys) and soft armor protection of the torso and extremities (neck, shoulders, groin, and knee and elbow joints). (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

person straps in vest

Airman First Class Natasha Birch, 97th Security Forces Squadron response force member, puts on the new Female Body Armor, March 11, 2021, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. This was created by the Female Fitment Program Office to identify problems and find solutions quickly for finding gear and uniform items better equipped for female Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

two people issue two other people armored vests.

From left, Airmen First Class Paris Lockett and Alonza Barnes, 97th Logistics Readiness Squadron Individual Protection Equipment members, issue equipment to Airman First Class Natasha Birch, 97th Security Forces Squadron (SFS) response force member and Investigator Allison Schaecher, 97th SFS Investigations Office member, March 11, 2021, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Female Airmen of the 97th Security Forces Squadron received the first batch of newly created and issued Female Body Armor, early March 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

a pamphlet is held by a person.

Investigator Allison Schaecher, 97th Security Forces Squadron Investigations Office member, looks at a manual for the new Female Body Armor, March 11, 2021, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. This four tier system allows the commander to tailor the female Defender's protective level for different mission profiles, while allowing the female Defender to adjust the fit to accommodate physical characteristics and better integrate with existing gear. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

armor vest on a chair

The new Female Body Armor of Investigator Allison Schaecher, 97th Security Forces Squadron Investigations Office member, is displayed in a chair, March 11, 2021, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. The base received 18 new FBA and will continue to receive more. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --

Female Airmen of the 97th Security Forces Squadron received the first batch of newly created and issued Female Body Armor, in early March 2021. The FBA features increased mobility, load carriage support, and comfort while still maintaining coverage of vital organs.

The new armor is one of the Air Force Chief of Staff’s initiatives and was created by the Female Fitment Program Office. Their mission is to identify problems and quickly find solutions for gear and uniform items to better equip female Airmen.

“I think it's awesome, it's about time that females are getting the representation that we need and we're able to get equipment that fits our body types and is more comfortable,” said Investigator Allison Schaecher, 97th Security Forces Squadron Investigations Office member.

According to the contract, the FBA effort will provide female Security Forces defenders with a modular, scalable body armor system that will provide levels of protection against fragmenting munitions, handgun, and small arms threats.

“I'm surprised it honestly took this long to get it,” said Schaecher. “I mean, I've been in for four years and I've seen everything from the second chance vest with the H harness to the old vests that we had, and this is by far the best one that we've ever had.”

The contract additionally states the FBA initiative is a four-tier system that allows the commander to tailor the female Defender's protective level for different mission profiles while allowing the female Defender to adjust the fit to accommodate physical characteristics and better integrate with existing gear. It will include hard armor protection of vital organs (heart, liver, lungs, and kidneys) and soft armor protection of the torso and extremities (neck, shoulders, groin, and knee and elbow joints).

“Before there was only one option with chest plates, but with the new armor it comes with different plate carrier configurations and it’s better for the female body,” said Airman 1st Class Alonza Barnes, 97th Logistics Readiness Squadron Individual Protection Equipment journeyman. “A lot of the females coming in to get the new armor are excited and they have been saying ‘you don’t know how much of a difference this is going to make.’”

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