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USMC Searching for New Lightweight Hard Armor Plate

The MCSC (Marine Corps Systems Command) is on the search for a new Berry compliant, lightweight hard armor plate.

This search is intended to test the industry ability to generate a plate that is compatible with the Corp’s Enhanced Small Arms Protective Insert (ESAPI) as well as “provide sufficient protection for low-intensity threat environments,” as stated by a presser cited on

Requirements for Lightweight Hard Armor Plate

The necessary requirements for the lightweight hard armor plates are currently:

  • Provide two-shot ballistic protection from non-armor piercing rounds that are currently prevalent in counter-insurgency operations and other low intensity threat environments.
    • Rounds primarily fired by sniper rifles will be tested at a velocity expected at 100m-200m standoff.
    • One shot will be in the crown location at 0-degrees obliquity; the other shot will be at off-center locations at 30-degrees obliquity.
    • Meet back-face deformations less than 58 mm.
  • Conform to Enhanced Small Arms Protective Insert shape and area of coverage.
  • Possess a thickness that is the same or less than current ESAPI.
  • Possess an areal density of 3.75 pounds/square foot (Objective) to 5.16 pounds/square foot (Threshold).

Background on Lightweight Hard Armor Plates

Last fall, the MCSC expressed the desire to procure a more flexible and lighter body armor implementation.  This desire stems form the current choices that marines have in this area: either fifteen pounds with protection, or zero pounds with no protection. 

Program Manager Infantry Combat Equipment (PM ICE) has tested over two hundred commercial plates from thirty-eight different companies in the last year to determine what type of lightweight solutions might be available to replace the current hard armor plates.

These plate tests were conducted by the MCSC’s Marine Expeditionary Rifle Squad Team during the Marine Corps Load Effects Assessment Program.  After the program was completed and data was tabulated, it was found that new lighter weight plates had the potential to boost troop mobility by as much as eight percent.  No small increase.

The contracts is scheduled to be awarded after all research into the product is concluded at the end of Fiscal Year 2019.

August 22, 2018 by Charles Wallace