A video of a member of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s security team unfolding a ‘briefcase’ when the reported ‘smoke bomb’ rolls in from behind has generated some curiosity online.
While its use by the Japanese security personnel was otherwise instinctive and did not serve its purpose since the explosive turned out to be a non-lethal smoke bomb, it stands to reason that it would have been of immense use in an actual blast or a gun-firing attack.
Called a ‘ballistic folding shield’ or a ‘ballistic briefcase,’ it is a discreet close protection and rapid deployment bulletproof sheet. Its inconspicuous appearance of a formal office hand-carried bag doesn’t give away the presence of a bodyguard, but it can “unfold rapidly with one hand to provide a sizeable line of defense for ballistic and fragmentation threats,” according to an online catalog of a company, Indian Armour.
Alert Security Guard Opens Ballistic Briefcase
Meanwhile, the grainy video that went around on Twitter shows the security personnel bending down as the explosive bounces in from behind PM Kishida.
The guard then uses the ballistic briefcase and his leg to kick it away before opening it and pushing Kishida from the scene. Other personnel and staff surrounding them realize what is happening and jump in to secure Kishida, whisking him away from the scene.
The video, posted by international affairs commentator Ashok Swain, mistook it for an actual briefcase, which he believed helped shield the PM from the bomb.
“Japanese Prime Minister being saved from an assassination attempt – Bodyguard should not carry handbags, but it seems to have helped!” Swain said.
Other Twitter handles corrected him that it was not a briefcase but a bulletproof/ballistic one meant for protection and security. Ensuing comments in the Twitter thread noted the security personnel’s instinctive training to “deflect the device, deploy the shield, place himself between the PM and the device/shield, and push the PM away.”
Japanese Prime Minister being saved from an assassination attempt – Bodyguard should not carry handbags, but here it seems to have helped! pic.twitter.com/n77XKlrwiL
— Ashok Swain (@ashoswai) April 16, 2023
Another user posted photos of a Dutch manufacturer showing a user opening the shield in its narrow form, covering the body from the head to the knee. In another image, the shield is completely spread out in its full sheet size on the ground.
Ballistic Shield: Protect From Both Bullets & Shrapnels
Naturally, following the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, security had been more alert, as was evident from the guard quickly spotting the smoke grenade rolling in.
That the security guard opened the shield for a suspected bomb means it could withstand grenade blasts and shrapnel from such explosives in a close radius.
Many casualties from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) used in terror attacks, irregular insurgents, and even on conventional battlefields are from shrapnel. In the former, it is ball bearings, nails, or glass packed inside the explosive, and the latter has flying pieces of metal from the artillery rounds falling on military equipment.
These sharp objects being flung around following an explosion are traveling nearly at the same speed as bullet rounds and, therefore, can be stopped by such ballistic jackets. They are made of Kevlar, the same material as many bulletproof jackets, and weigh between 7 to 9 kilograms. This is according to a brief overview of the product from leading private manufacturers participating in arms exhibitions.
They differ in shape, size, and protection levels from ‘Ballistic Shields.’ Shields are solid, metal rectangular shaped, openly carried by security personnel while facing armed criminals.
Some models only cover the upper torso, while others are long enough to cover from the head to the ankle. One model has a detachable lower part to cover the full body and rest the bottom on a wheeled trolley.
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