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Armored Chaps, Hearing Pro and Slimmer Vests

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Greetings folks. Just an FYI -- I've been at a military armor protection conference today getting the latest insight on body and vehicle armor, active protection systems, advanced materials and other protective equipment.

First bit of news comes from an official with the Army's combat developments directorate at Fort Benning who described some upcoming "soldier protection demonstrations" that will take a look at various new technology solutions to common problems on the battlefield. This is the same way the Army came up with its vastly-improved body armor, or IOTV.

The first initiative is a combat vehicle crewman armor suite that recognizes the tight confines of a vehicle and its various entry ports and takes advantage of the vehicles inherent armor protection. But the official, John Yancey, recognized that Humvee gunners and other vehicle gunners might need more armor for blast mitigation in an IED scenario.

It all needs to fit into a new philosophy the Army wants vendors to adhere to in armor design that calls for modularization in armor components. In other words, Yancey wants to give commanders the leeway to add or subtract armor components based on mission and threat. A door kicker only needs a plate carrier, a vehicle gunner needs arm, shoulder, face and neck protection, he said.

Another SPD going on right now at Benning is looking into hearing protection and enhancement. Kinda like "hunters ear" already on the market.

Yancey also talked about an upcoming SPD on lower extremity protection, including six vendors who've submitted products such as ballistic shorts, pants and chaps. Yancey admitted no Soldier was going to have to wear Kevlar pants on patrol, but a vehicle gunner might really appreciate them. He also mentioned that the Army was taking another look at whether the current padding system in the advanced combat helmet is making the grade.

Stay tuned for more from the Military Armor Protection conference taking place in Alexandria, Va., today and tomorrow.

-- Christian

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