By Paolo Valpolini
Once only a police issue, riot control has become an issue not only in internal public order missions but also in stabilisation operations, where military forces are often confronted to crowd control situations. Israel Weapon Industries (IWI), part of the SK Group, the Israeli company based in Ramat-Hasharon, close to Tel Aviv, the principal firerarms manufacturer of the nation, developed a new lightweight riot control suit aiming at solving a series of problems its experts identified in the recent past. Among those the lack of comfort of many available solutions, mostly based on plastic materiel elements, and that of tailoring the suits to the various sizes.
Leveraging its experience in protective suits, IWI developed the GAL VPS (Versatile Protective Suit), which elements are made of polyethylene foam laminated on one side to a solid High Density Poly Ethylene (HDPE) extruded sheet covered with abrasion resistant Cordura 1000, a flame-retardant materiel layer being added should the customer require it. This allows the various elements to maintain flexibility, while the modular concept gives a one-size-fits-all suit. On the inside the protective elements exploit IWI Wave system to ensure maximum absorption and redirection of the kinetic energy generated by the hit, energy absorption being 1,200 J/cm2.
The GAL is made of a number of elements designed to protect the body, torso, arms, and legs, while maintaining a good freedom of movement. Coming to weight, to withstand a Level W2 threat the GAL weight 4.4 kg, which increases to 5.5 kg to cope with W4 energy levels. These levels are established by VPAM KDIW 2004 Edition 18.05.2011 document, the W2 level requiring an average deformation depth of less than 20 mm on the area, the seam and the overlap when hitting them with a 25 J strike energy at 90° of incidence, the W4 lever withstanding a 65 J strike energy.
The chest element can double as a plate carrier, and can host bulletproof and anti-stab plates.
A Level IIA NIJ, Level II knife 360° protective vest can be provided, to be worn under the operational suit, while a 1.1 kg Lev IIIA helmet can be added.
According to IWI the GAL VPS answers the requirements of the three modes of intervention, Concealed Mode, Search and Arrest, and Riot Mode. During its development the system was tested by prison guards, border patrol and Army personnel. The final configuration shown at Milipol Paris was finalised a few days before the exhibition.
Photos by P. Valpolini