Body Armor Remains Key Concern for US Military

Discussion in 'US' started by jumpinjarhead, Nov 24, 2009.

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  1. Body Armor Remains Key Concern for US Military

    Posted: 11/23/2009 11:35:00 AM EST

    Vector Strategy recently predicted that the US military would spend $6 billion on body armor for US Army soldiers and Marine Corps troops between 2009 and 2015.

    Between 70 and 75 million pounds of material will be used to produce the body armor, which will include ceramic tiles, aramid and ultra-high molecular weight polyethelene fibres, as well as other non-ballistic materials.

    Body Armor Recall

    The US Department of Defense (DOD) has received criticism recently for failing to equip troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, with the protective equipment needed to keep casualties to a minimum.

    In January, the Army was forced to defend the body armor plates that had been issued to soldiers in a high-profile reminder of the issues surrounding equipment.

    An audit published by the DOD's Inspector General found that the first-phase tests did not adhere to contract requirements and resulted in nearly 33,000 components of the total armor plate supply of around nine million units being recalled from the field.

    "Those plates being worn on the backs and fronts of soldiers all around the world are quality product," said Army Brigadier General Peter Fulller, explaining that the recall was not implemented because the body armor was defective.

    "We've tested it, we've validated it—in this case, we've even had someone else validate the same information," he added.

    He disputed the audit's finding that the contract requirements had been broken, but agreed to recall the components as a precautionary measure. The Army has called for the Office of the Deputy Secretary of Defense to adjudicate the disagreement with the Inspector General.

    Upgrade Strategy

    Nevertheless, the withdrawal is a side note in the US Army and Marine Corps' current process of upgrading body armour generally, while also procuring protective equipment to meet short-term needs on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Plate carriers, protective vests and helmets are just some of the body armor components that the US military is upgrading. A program to develop the Improved Modular Tactical Vest for the Marine Corps is already in place, as is a Next Generation Vest scheme, which will see the Army's current Improved Outer Tactical Vest replaced.

    Helmet Enhancement

    In addition, the Army and Marine Corps have teamed up to develop the Enhanced Combat Helmet (ECH), an upgrade from the Advanced Combat and Lightweight Helmets.

    Natick has proposed a Next Generation Combat Helmet development project for 2010, although it has not yet been approved. The aim is to transfer the scheme to Program Executive Office Soldier or a joint program office in 2013.

    In July, the Marine Corps Systems Command awarded Gentext Corporation a $1.8 million contract to produce prototype helmets for the ECH programme.

    "Today's warfighters operate in extremely complex threat environments that require increasingly higher levels of protection," said Erik Balascik, force protection product business manager at Gentex.

    The military is looking for a 35 percent increase in ballistic protection against fragmentation while maintaining current headborne weight for these new body armor components.

    Body Armor Plates

    Body armor plates have also been a major area of development for the military. The Army is aiming to develop a new insert for bullet proof vests, dubbed "XSAPI,” to replace the enhanced small arms protective inserts (ESAPI).

    These new inserts are designed to stop more deadly body armour-piercing rounds and weigh less than the current ESAPI.

    Ceradayne is one of the firms to have secured a contract to develop the new insert as part of the military's body armour development strategy.

    David P. Reed, president of North American operations for the firm, said: "The XSAPI design is the most robust ballistic protection available to our American fighting men and women.

    "It not only stops the most lethal 'X' ballistic threats, but also defeats other threats that the former ESAPI and SAPI systems were designed to address as well."
  2. Only reason I am here is My IBA & SAPI saved My life twice. Another NCO took a 7.62X54R within an 1" of the top edge of his Back SAPI and suffered only severe bruising and some nicks from the Bullet Jacket when it fragmented (nothing penetrated more than 1/4").
  3. Glad it worked for you! I assume the round in the other incident was not black tip 7.62X54?
  4. Good for you. I am an old fart who never had to do anything dangerous. I am truly glad you had your armour.