New Army Armor

I just wanted to call everyones attention to the story were running today on the Armys new body armor design. As some of you may know, body armor is a subject about which I have spent a considerable amount of coverage over the years (no pun intended, I swear).

What I found in my reporting put the Army and Marine Corps in a defensive crouch for years, prompting major recalls of body armor production lots that had not passed quality assurance testing.

While the ground services havent changed the fundamental components of their body armor, both the Army and Marine Corps have redesigned their vests to make them more comfortable and safer than the Point Blank-manufactured Interceptor. The latest design from the Army is a positive step in this regard. Having spent a lot of time in body armor in war zones, I have never been a fan of the Interceptor design for comfort and coverage reasons, and its good to see that the services have made changes.

DT obtained photos of the new Army vest from PEO Soldier, so lets take an inside look at what changes have been made.IOTV-front-web.jpg

Youll notice in the first photo (front view) that the vest wraps around the body more efficiently and has integrated side-plate carriers that can adjust up and down. Theres also a pull-tab just below the chin that allows the wearer to doff the vest in a hurry. Also, check out all the MOLLE webbing attachment points for mag pouches and accessory pockets.IOTV-back-web.jpg

In the second photo (back view), youll see a large outer pouch for the ESAPI plate. The larger ESAPI was always harder to fit in the Interceptor pocket and was exposed to the elements from the upper flap. Theres also a larger haul loop on the back to drag your wounded buddy out of harms way. You can also see the inner mesh lining of the vest that helps wick moisture away from the body.IOTV-open-web.jpg

The last photo (open front view) shows a more detailed look at the inner components of the new IOTV, its wrap around fit and the neck and chin guard integrated into the collar. Also notice the side access point on the left shoulder. Thats so medics can get to wounds easier and also allows a soldier to vent the vest in stifling heat.

At first blush, Id say the Army has done a good job picking its new design. Soldiers will be a lot more comfortable in the thing and it seems as if the vest will offer more protection from blast scenarios than the Interceptor. What isnt shown in these pictures is the inner cummerbund which helps distribute the weight onto the waist and a new lower-back protector to protect the kidneys and other vital organs where the vest tends to ride up.

The next step in body armor design will likely be a fundamental shift in ballistic resistant components. As far as I know, the new Army vest is made of the same materials as the prior one: Kevlar panels with boron carbide ceramic and Dyneema-backed plates. Both components are heavy and ceramic is hard to manufacture and is a delicate material. I understand from some sources that Pinnacles Dragon Skin armor was not one of the 17 designs submitted to the Army last year. Im not sure why, but leaps in protective technology and design are sure to be incorporated into the next armor sets fielded by the Army and Marines.

So, kudos to the Army for their pick

-- Christian

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