Bulletproof vests are great if you happen to get shot, but what happens if you get shot on a boat and fall overboard or have to dive into choppy waters to escape a fire? Well, hopefully you’re wearing the Flotation Armor Torso System (FATS) from BCB International. Not only does this vest protect you from bullets, it self-inflates to serve as a life vest.
BCB International offers a wide range of tactical, survival and outdoor products for everyone from soldiers to everyday adventurers. Its products run the gamut from fire starters to blast-proof underwear.
The newly updated FATS vest isn’t the first inflatable bulletproof vest on the market, but it offers a clean, multipurpose design that protects both the wearer and self-inflating lifesaver with NIJ 0101.06 IIIA-standard armor. It includes front and rear MOLLE attachments and enough buoyancy to float the person wearing the vest and all their equipment.
In designing the FATS, BCB combined the armored vest with an inflatable stole. The CO2 cylinder-powered stole rests underneath the armor and can be activated manually or automatically within seconds of hitting the water. It inflates around the wearer’s upper body, and the armored vest expands to accommodate it by way of quick-release buckles. The body armor continues to offer protection in the water, and the inflatable self-rights to keep the breathing passages clear.
The FATS vest is made from a lightweight, PU-coated nylon and includes Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene soft armor plates. It can accommodate hard armor plates in front and back and has a rear grab handle for extraction. It also comes in 170- and 275-Newton buoyancy options.
The inflatable stole can be easily removed to allow the armored vest to be worn in situations in which an inflatable life vest isn’t necessary. The auto-inflation function can also be deactivated if desired.
The FATS vest is a way of protecting oneself from both bullets and drowning without wearing an uncomfortable, potentially dangerous combination of layers. Because the inflatable stole is under the armored vest, it is also protected from fire.
Designed for maritime law enforcement agencies like coast guards and navies, BCB began selling the updated FATS vest several months ago for £1,000 (US$1,550). The company demonstrated the system at last month’s Seawork International commercial marine exhibition.