Published 26 February 2023

Share this story

Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) has commissioned the largest survey of its kind in the UK to ensure the data used by equipment designers in the Ministry of Defence reflects current body shapes and sizes.

The last time anthropometric data was collected for the army, navy and air force was in 2007, with women and those from Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups currently under-represented in the existing data.

Laird Evans, Human Factors Specialist at DE&S, said:

“There are approximately 13,000 people from BAME communities and over 21,000 women serving in the UK armed forces so it’s important that equipment designers have access to the latest data regarding body shapes and sizes. Although body shapes and sizes may not have changed substantially in the past 15 years, they will have changed to some extent and even small changes may prove significant when designing military equipment.”

The new survey has been commissioned by the Defence Ordnance Safety Group (DOSG) within DE&S. DOSG has contracted QinetiQ to measure over 2,750 personnel from across all services and to collect over 180 measurements from each volunteer. In order to carry out this survey of body sizes, QinetiQ has purchased two state-of-the-art 3D body scanners, which will take around 160 measurements, with the remaining being taken by hand.

In order to attract sufficient numbers of personnel from the appropriate demographic groups, QinetiQ will be working to recruit volunteers to take part in the survey from the following sites:

British Army – Aldershot, Andover, Catterick, Colchester Tidworth and Wattisham

Royal Navy – Lympstone, Portsmouth, Torpoint and Yeovil

Royal Air Force – Brize Norton, Coningsby, Cranwell, Halton and Honington

Participation in the study is voluntary and can be withdrawn at any time. All data collected will remain anonymous, is protected, and can be removed from the database upon request from the participant. All those taking part will be eligible for an Experimental Test Allowance (ETA).

The survey has attracted attention and support from the highest levels in the MOD. It has been endorsed by Lieutenant General James Swift, formerly Chief of Defence People (CDP); Lieutenant General Ivan Jones, formerly Commander Field Army (CFA); Rear Admiral Jude Terry, Director Personnel and Training (RN); and Air Marshal Sir Gerry Mayhew, Deputy Commander Operations (RAF).

The anthropometry survey is scheduled to begin early in 2023 and continue until the end of the year.