Osprey: is it really that crap?

Being a blunt Crab my own experiences with Osprey armor have been pretty limited up till now but while poking about wikipedia I came across the Osprey entry.

Osprey body armour

Now normally, I take wiki with a large dose of salt but that's quite a slating and seems to fly in the face of the impression I've got from Osprey users and comments on here.

So, how much of it's bull or does it really have that many problems?
I wear Osprey every day. It's got to be safer than CBA so, if you can wear it and still do your job (which I can), then it's all good. It's certainly heavy but it's actually fairly comfortable as the weight is fairly well distributed across your shoulders and around your body. I gather that there's a new cover out but I don't know if this addresses any of the durability problems.
Its surprisingly comfortable for a piece of kit weghing 22 lbs; down to the cover which wraps both around your waist and at the sides.

The ammo pouches are poor in that they fall open to easily, answer is to buy some big strips of velcro as a fastener. A lot of the blokes from 1 RGR also bought drop pouches for empty magazines - these fasten at the left thigh and despite looking gay are actually very useful.
Although there are some pouches issued with the Osprey System they are really a hang over from old stock. The latest assault vest has a raft of different pouches and they all fit the Osprey cover.

The Osprey cover is now up to version 3 with version 2 on general issue and version 3 getting close to procurement. Each one is better than the last both taking into account user feedback and also the better ideas from industry. Many of the user criticisms of Osprey is about Version 1 covers of which there is still a few about in theatre. The priority was to get the capability out to the troops. User trails and development would have produced a better system but ask those who have had their lives saved by Osprey in the early days if they would have rather the system was 100% before it went out!

Yes it is heavy but to reach the levels of performance demanded it needed to be. 'Son of Osprey' is likely to be lighter and more modular. Wait Out+
I think its great. Some teething issues and needs better / more ancil-pouches but had faith in the protection it offered. Some guys used to bitch about it "bein no good in a section attack!" we didnt do many of them though. I think it was designed to be able to remove the plates if situation required it and ecba plates could be inserted instead I found it very comfortable once my core body strength had improved a bit. Found you could slide your head back down into it for a kip if you were sitting right and be quite comfortable with only your eyes peeking out.

Anyway - I think it would do its job - improving your chances of surving a surprise attack (sniper / IED) to decide if you want to remove the plates prior to your counter-attack.
silly question time, but is Osprey only for desert use, I've seen it mentioned that it will not be used in more temperate areas and hence it will only appear in desert DPM?
petergriffen said:
silly question time, but is Osprey only for desert use, I've seen it mentioned that it will not be used in more temperate areas and hence it will only appear in desert DPM?
It's a thing of necessity; ie, it is issued where it is required, at the moment that is on ops in Iraq and Afghan. I imagine in the future if we are conducting high intensity/high risk ops in a greener theatre where there is a specific threat of a nature that requires this type of protection, an evaluation of the risk will be conducted and we may be issued with similar.
I read with interest complaints about the weight of Opsprey. I am currently wearing US issued body armour and, with ammo and water, it weighs well in excess of 50 pounds. It is, however, very well made and showing no signs of ripping or anything like that.
If there was a change in theatre you would have to wait for a couple of chaps to get blown up first, then have a big hoo-haa at home, just before an election, and then, just maybe, the politicians might cough up the cash required to buy a few covers in DPM. Or am I being cynical?
US armour would be made in the US at a bit more expense, where as ours is probably knocked together by the cheapest sweat shop in the east somewhere.
Sorry a long one but there are a few big errors in these threads that as a serving soldier working in this area I cannot let go unchallenged!

Keeping in mind the name of the page you are looking at I can confirm that future-rupert is talking out of his.

Osprey plates and covers are not made in a sweat shop in the East. The covers are made actually in the west, west UK that is near Barnstable. By the same company that makes much of the kit that we, and the US and many of the worlds SF use. They work hard to keep in front of the sweat shops by producing quality kit, no small feat when labour costs are so low abroad. If the kit fails it will be because we, the MoD, did not ask for certain stitching in certain places. The plates and the fragmentation filler are not made very far afield either but I won't go into details.

The reason that the covers are in desert DPM is simple. Osprey has been purchased under an Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) for TELIC and HERRICK. Under those funding rules when those operations stop the ECBA comes back out and the Osprey is not maintained any longer. As Osprey is funded by a desert UOR it needs a desert cover. Osprey has no funding outside of a few training sets in UK. Making temperate covers (desert is also DPM) is a 5 minute job. Apart from some recent anecdotal feedback from the troops working in the Green zone on HERRICK no one, I repeat no one has convinced theatre to ask for green covers. If they want them they will get them. Money is not a deciding issue on Body armour at all.

2 final points: Project PECOC will address bringing full coverage body armour into core and in additional there is a new Body Armour policy doing the round at main building that is addressing the ‘standard issue question’. Wait out+

The US have draconian laws about not going outside of the US to procure called the Berry Amendment. It is universally despised by the US procurers at it forces them to use only the best that is in the US (not the best available) and they pay through the nose, often up to 3 times more for the same kit. They get around this by encouraging non-US firms to set up in the US so that they can claim they are buying US kit.
I know that some people like to see conspiracy and cost saving in every kit bag. In this area they are misguided. Keep this is mind: Osprey was designed by a serving officer, tested by serving NCOs, funding was secured by a serving officer, it is currently issued by a serving Warrant Officer and its replacement is being pursued by a serving officer with feedback from troops of all ranks. Maybe future-rupert, when you are trying to get stuff onto the backs of your comrades and mates, you may show a little more understanding of the issues and be less inclined to jump to incorrect assumptions.
Rant over.
Wrong, infantry were involved in its procurement and continue to be involved in developing the next version of the covers

I don't deign its not ideal for anyone to be carrying that amount of weight around. I am also not saying that it does not impact on agility. It undoubtedly does. I was not around when it first came in but I am aware of its rapid development. From the UOR hitting the desk it was procured in 12 weeks, that’s a new plate, a new cover and new fragmentation filler. The thought process was, and I agree with it, that’s its better to get the system out to the troops quickly and then sort out the users issues rather than spend months in development time while potentially people die.

Every time substantiated comments come back from theatre they are incorporated into the next version; some of them are small like stitching reinforcement and others are bigger hence the version changes. . Version 3 of the cover is almost ready for procurement (after trails by the infantry again) so hopefully many of the things that make it 'badly designed for the infantry' will be rectified. Meanwhile work progresses on lighter plates, better integration and modular load carriage systems.
kitmonster said:
Wrong, infantry were involved in its procurement and continue to be involved in developing the next version of the covers
I'm surprised they got it so wrong! The protection is great and i'm happy with it in my WMIK, though the blokes foot slogging it who have to carry the weight of it, try and fire a rifle properly with it and sweat in it are far from pleased with its design. Many in my unit have bought the Blackhawk plate holder, have done away with ospray and just put its plates in the blackhawk. Much more comfortable and at £60 not bad at all.
One of the options being looked at is the plate with the plate carrier (remember that Osprey is the system including the plates).

As for sweating in it I am not surprised! Its 50oC heat and you are carrying a huge lump of body armour around with you!

Putting the plate into a lightweight carrier has its risks. You get zero fragmentation protection except where the plate sits, think about how many arteries and vital organs are now exposed to fragmentation. There are other issues as well which mean that doing this needs to be after an assessment of the threat and task. 90% of the people on the ground have no access to the right intelligence nor the training to make that call. What I am saying is that this needs to be decided at the right level.

You are correct about the rifle issue. Its better in version 2 and better still in version 3. The best way to overcome the issue is to train with the kit you will fight in (nothing new there!). Manufacturing has now caught up with demand and hopefully troops can be issued their deployment kit for pre-tour training in the next RIP.

Cheers for the chat and whilst I welcome some chat room ping pong I am late for the pub! This is me signing off until my hang over fades away.
I'm non-Inf, but I think it's the absolute cat's pyjamas. As has been said earlier: surprisingly comfortable for something so heavy, and you really do feel a lot safer in it than ECBA.

Body Armour is the future. I'd be interested to know if any Inf here would honestly want to conduct any form of high risk work, in any theatre without wearing this stuff from now on. Doubtless there will be comments about agility, endurance, heat exhaustion etc, so perhaps SF and their wannabees (Para, Cdo etc) wouldn't want it, but at the end of the day, wearing this stuff means that you can get shot and stand a good chance of not being seriously injured.

Osprey is that rarest of items: a good piece of British Army Kit.
having worn cba /ecba and the first osprey on ops in the sandpit i found osprey the most practical however we only got 15 sets for a company on rurals so it was minging all the time and there was no time to wash it as the rurals were 24 hours.But having been 2i/c rover group therefore on top cover as a senior i had to wear ECBA with collars at 48 + heat this was terrible infact worse than terrible it was feckin awful!

the Ospey is ok however there were no pouches or very few issued I and many more bought extra pouches from the px (US M16 Pouches/Utility Pouches)and as has shown from somebody i know it rides up and therefore they got a lower abdomen gunshot wound because it rode up in contact
kitmonster- Was only having a stab at the usual farce that is kit procurement. I stand corrected as you seem to be thoroughly involved with the whole lot.

Roger that, thanks. I, like most people, thought that kit procurement was a farce and of course when I got there I would sort it all out etc etc. Unfortunately its only when you are the middle of it do you understand the issues.

For some stuff we can stay in UK (which really means Europe as the companies are all international to some degree) but for others, like uniform manufacture, there is no one who can manufacture in UK in any quantity. So at the moment the contracts are often placed with UK firms who then manufacture off shore.

The biggest problem by far is that European regulations, which the UK government signed up to, say that everything over a certain cost has to be competed which takes months. Only by bending the rules and calling it an operational necessity can the thought police from Brussels be avoided.
The other big problem, which I know will not be received well, is that the users do not know really what they want. Ask 3 COs or 3 Toms what they want and you get 4 different answers. The recently hated Assault vest pouches were modified as a result of users asking for certain changes like more pliable material, separators in the pouches etc. They were put on, passed their trials and then went to theatre where they were hated! Back to the drawing board and now we have another vest being procured!
A final thought. All the kit in the HERRICK and TELIC ops bag is paid for by the operation. If ops stop tomorrow (a bit unlikely I know) then its back to trs lightweight, jersey heavy wool and ECBA. I think my pads are still starched….

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