Army Pushing Lighter Body Armor for Troops

Washington Report

(April 18, 2017) A lighter load for deployed troops could be available sometime next year. The Army is pushing ahead with developing and fielding new headgear, protective vests and eyewear as part of the Soldier Protection System under development at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, according to Army Times this week.

The main piece of body protection would be 5 pounds lighter than the current outer tactical vest, but would not sacrifice any effectiveness against bullets or shrapnel.

It also is more adaptable for missions and threat levels with a vest that can be easily adjusted. The system also includes a ballistic combat shirt, pelvic protection and a battle belt that takes weight off a soldier’s shoulders and back.

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The new helmet is an integrated head-protection system that resembles a motorcycle helmet. It can be enhanced with a visor, a piece that protects the lower jaw and a protective layer for the top.

The helmet will also allow night-vision goggles to be easily attached. It could be available by 2020 or 2021.

The eyewear has the ability to go from clear to dark in less than a second to protect eyes from the sun. All it takes is a push of a button. Army Times says the eyewear will not be part of the required gear for deployments, but they will be available for commanders to purchase for their troops at a cost of $200 each.

The entire system has been tested by soldiers for three to five weeks, according to Lt. Col. Kathy Brown, a product manager at Program Executive Office Soldier at Fort Belvoir.

“They would go through different training exercises and mission sets,” she told the publication. “After, they would come back and provide us feedback through the form of a structured survey or sometimes do a table talk—soldiers sit around and talk about what they like and what they didn’t like.”

She said they favored the additional protection and lighter weight of the entire system.