Dressed to train

The Finnish company which has developed the only CE certified full-contact training suit in the world and makes combat protective equipment for police forces and the military the world over, a few weeks ago signed an €11.2 million contract, the biggest defence contract this year in Finland, to deliver ballistic vests to the Scandinavian nation’s defence forces.

The full-body training suit

A one-year conscription is in force in Finland so the army is staffed by some 350,000 soldiers in any one year for a population of 5.495 million inhabitants : that’s 6.4% of the population! Of course, they won’t all be wanting ballistic vests, but still, C.P.E. (Combat Protective Equipment) Production Oy will be delivering 30,000 vests over 2018 and 2019.

But more surprising perhaps is the story behind the full-contact training suit. It was developed by a Norwegian army officer following a request from his Ministry of Defence to modernise the WWII methods and equipment still in force with the country’s special forces. In parallel it had emerged that Norway’s soldiers on mission in former Yugoslavia were not used to standing back whilst they were being attacked by civilians brandishing sticks and stones. They had been trained to move forwards. So they needed to be trained in crowd-control and anti-demonstration techniques. His remit was “full training but no injuries”. The suit’s developer, who is now C.P.E’s managing director, thought a manufacturer of garments for the most violent sport he knew of might be able to help, so he turned to a Finnish ice-hockey garment expert. Together they developed the first full-contact training suit. But demand was such that it made business sense to found a new company, and so C.P.E. was born.

The full-contact training suit is on show at the Milipol exhibition being held this week in Paris. Visitors remark that it seems far too bulky for the wearer to be able to move much, but the developer suggests you watch an ice-hockey match, observe the goalie and see how agile he is! The wearer of the training suit can match that agility. The novelty of the product this year lies in the face-guard which made of steel meshing which will not allow a sharp blade or point through it.

Another novelty being shown by the company is its new blade-proof material.