Army Orders $40 Million of its Newest Body Armor

Army equipment officials have begun fielding the new Modular Scalable Vest, or MSV. But now they're looking to invest in even lighter armor. Photo: U.S. Army.
Army equipment officials have begun fielding the new Modular Scalable Vest, or MSV. But now they're looking to invest in even lighter armor. Photo: U.S. Army.

The Army recently ordered more than $40 million worth of its latest body armor vests and accessories from KDH Defense Systems Inc., a North Carolina-based firm that's been a major player in the service's body armor for more than a decade.

The service placed a $31.5 million delivery order for the new Modular Scalable Vest (MSV) and a $9 million order for its new Blast Pelvic Protector (BPP), according to a recent KDH news release.

The Army unveiled the MSV in late 2016 as part of its Soldier Protection System (SPS), which consists of armor protection options for the head, torso and other areas of the body.

The MSV weighs about 7.4 pounds, based on a size medium, without ballistic plates. It comes in at about 22.6 pounds when equipped with front and side body armor plates -- roughly a 3.7 pound weight savings over the current Improved Outer Tactical Vest (IOTV) Gen III, Program Executive Office Soldier officials told Military.com.

The Blast Pelvic Protector is an optional accessory that provides ballistic protection from 9mm rounds and fragmentation for the groin and upper thigh area. The BPP resembles a pair of loose-fitting shorts that are worn over the Army Combat Uniform trousers.

The device is designed to replace earlier attempts at groin protection such as the Protective Under Garment and the Protective Over Garment.

The SPS also includes the Integrated Head Protection System (IHPS), which will replace the Enhanced Combat Helmet in close-combat units, and the Ballistic Combat Shirt, which features soft armor on the neck, shoulders, high chest and high back to protect against 9mm rounds and shrapnel.

The orders for the MSV and the BPP are scheduled to be completed in 2020, according to the KDH release.

The Modular Scalable Vest is not the Army's first attempt to give soldiers armor protection that's lighter than the IOTV. The service conducted a soldier load study in 2009 that resulted in an $18.6 million contract award to KDH for the first Army Plate Carrier Systems.

KDH has also produced versions of the Interceptor Outer Tactical Vest, the precursor to the Army IOTV, as well as four generations of the IOTV.

"We continue to receive large-scale orders from the U.S. armed forces and various federal agencies, which we believe are a testament to our manufacturing capabilities, technological skill sets and, most important, our commitment to customers," Jim Henderson, CEO of the holding company that owns Armor Express and KDH, said in the release.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to correct the current weight of the MSV.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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