The US Army and Marine Corps have recently teamed up to produce lighter, better fitting body armor for their soldiers.
This was told military expert Sam Bocetta, a writer at Gun News Daily.
The new armor is designed to fit a wider range of body shapes and sizes, and should offer better protection for our troops in combat situations.
It also represents a welcome level of co-operation between the two Corps of the US military. As also saw with the recent introduction of the M27 rifle, it seems that the various branches of the military are more willing than ever to team up, rather than competing with each other.
Today, I’ll take you through the new design for body armor, and look at what the military’s priorities were in producing it.
Before I do that, however, I want to remind you that body armor is not the only form of protection you need when out shooting. We’ve all got a friend who thinks that shooting glasses and ear protection are for wimps. You know who I mean – that guy who claims that he’s never seen anyone injured when shooting without protection.
For my part, I’ve always looked to what the military wear. I figure that they employ hundreds of experts to look at what troops should wear while in the field, and so they should know what they are talking about. In this regard, it’s worth remembering that US Marines are required to wear both ear and eye protection when out on patrols.
A Better Fit
The US Marines seem to have prioritized two things when coming up with the design for the new body armor – it’s ability to stop small arms fire, and making it fit better when in the field.
The effort to introduce the new armor is a collaboration between the Marines Corps and the US Army’s Program Executive Office Soldier. This latter program aims to streamline integration of new technologies into the military, making sure troops benefit from new developments in armor and weaponry as soon as possible.
One of the problems with the current set of clothing, uniforms, personal protective, and load-bearing equipment is that it doesn’t fit every soldier. At present, some 2% of both male and female soldiers require specially-produced equipment.
It seems, therefore, that the most important consideration in designing the new armor was to make it a better fit for these soldiers. A policy update in July 2016 called for new equipment to reduce the number of soldiers who required bespoke equipment to 1%, and this is what the new armor achieves.
This extends the number of Marines who the new armor will fit by 14,568. This means that only 3,642 Marines will now require a non-standard size of armor. These soldiers will continue to be issued with custom-sized products.
The Plate Carrier Generation III
The Marines and the Army are also working on a new generation of plate carrier, which is also designed to fit a wider range of soldiers.
In addition, the new plate carrier is less bulky, lighter, and has a smaller overall footprint. This should make it more comfortable to wear in the field, whilst also providing the same level of protection.
The numbers are impressive. The new plate carrier is 23% lighter than the one currently in use, and is shorter in length by nearly 1.25 inches. It has been designed to be gender-neutral, which again improves the efficiency of logistics, and the weight and size savings it makes over the female version of the current plate carrier is even more impressive – 13% lighter, and a full 2 inches shorter.
Research is also ongoing into the next generation of body armor. At present, US Marines carry nearly 18 pounds of protective armor inserts, and this can limit their combat stamina. Many have called for a lighter vest to be developed.
The problem is that as small arms get more and more powerful, the armor issued to US soldiers needs to provide more and more protection. Reducing the weight of armor, whilst it may feel more comfortable, runs the risk of reducing the level of protection afforded to Marines.
At present, ballistics testing is being conducted to determine whether a lighter vest, making use of new materials, can still defeat the battlefield threats faced by Marines. The ultimate goal is to produce a series of plate options that will allow commanders and soldiers to vary the level of armor they wear according to the situation.