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BUCHAREST, Romania – A Romanian research institute is developing a bulletproof vest for the growing number of female soldiers signing up to serve in the country's army.
Though the U.S. Army produces flak jackets for women, they are not common worldwide, prompting the Romanian government to commission the project.
Lt. Claudiu Lazaroaie, who heads the project at the Scientific Research Center for CBRN Defense and Ecology, said that manufacturing is expected to start next year and that thousands of the flak jackets in three different sizes will be produced. The respected center, which was founded in 1924, carries out scientific research for defense technology and equipment.
For now, Romania's female soldiers are forced to wear men's body armor in smaller sizes, even though their anatomy is different. For many women, that means wearing a standard issue vest that is tight across the torso and too loose around the middle, causing discomfort and offering less protection.
"Even if women and men have the same circumference around the torso, their body shape is different," said Claudia Niculescu, a senior scientist at the National Institute for Textiles and Leather, who is involved in the project.
The U.S. Army says that since 2013 it has provided its female soldiers a vest whose feature include narrower shoulders for the easier aiming of rifles, darting to accommodate the female chest, a shorter torso, greater adjustability for the waist and hips and a neck collar that accommodates the hair bun worn by some female soldiers.
Alison Mutler in Bucharest, Romania contributed to this report.