Vertical Protective Apparel Providing Light-Weight Body Armor for Marines
DOD announced on September 26 that the Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) had awarded a contract to produce lighter-weight body armor, known as Plate Carrier Generation IIIs, which will help Marines increase their mobility and safety in training and deployments, according to a DOD contract notice as well as a statement from Kaitlin Kelly, public affairs, MCSC. A small business, Vertical Protective Apparel, LLC, of Shrewsbury, New Jersey, was awarded a $62,612,464 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract to produce and deliver the body armor. A maximum quantity of 225,886 will be delivered, and the work will be completed by September 2023, Kelly reported.
The body armor system will provide increased mobility, improved fit, lighter weight and additional modularity to support various types of missions. And compared to the legacy system, the PC Gen III offers increased ballistic protection and will be available in eight sizes to allow for a more customized fit across the Marine Corps, Kelly noted.
“The legacy carrier fit the span of the Marine Corps, but this new system is more tailorable to fit Marines of various sizes with three new smaller-stature options,” said Flora 'Mackie' Jordan, body armor engineer for the Infantry Combat Equipment Team at MCSC. “We wanted to give as much mobility back to Marines as possible by reducing the weight and bulk of the vest without decreasing ballistic protection. We were able to reduce the weight of the vest by 25 percent.”
The command's goal was to lighten the load Marines carry to reduce fatigue and improve their operational capability in the field, Kelly stated. A few new features of the PC Gen III contributed to the weight reduction. Excess material was removed from the shoulders and about an inch-and-a-half was taken from the bottom, which provides better integration with the USMC Pack, she reported. The team also chose a laminated laser cut material that only absorbs seven percent of water compared to 70 percent with the legacy system.
“We made sure to get the best system for our Marines, which included choosing the best lightweight soft armor and the best quality when it comes to the cut and sew of the carrier,” said Mackie.
Infantry, school house, and Reconnaissance Marines, along with vehicle crewmen and combat engineers will receive the vests when fielding begins in the third quarter of fiscal year 2019, according to MCSC.
Work will be performed in Shrewsbury. Fiscal year 2018 operations and maintenance (Marine Corps) funds will be obligated on the first delivery order immediately following contract award and the funds will expire the end of the current fiscal year. The contract was competitively procured via the Federal Business Opportunities website, with four offers received. MCSC in Quantico, Virginia, is the contracting activity (M67854-18-D-1309).