Home News Marine Corps considers upgrading body armor, plate carriers to ‘less bulky’ model

Marine Corps considers upgrading body armor, plate carriers to ‘less bulky’ model

Marine Corps body armor
Photo by Cpl. Reba James

In collaboration with the Army, the Marine Corps is working to rapidly integrate technological advances onto the battlefield.

The Marine Corps is planning to field lighter and better fitting plate carriers and body armor, referring to one of the new innovations as the Plate Carrier Generation III, says Barbara Hamby, a Marine Corps Systems Command spokesperson to the Marine Corps Times.

The new design is “less bulky, lighter in weight, and provides a smaller overall footprint than the current plate carrier while maintaining the same soft armor coverage and protection level,” says Hamby.

Hamby explained that the Plate Carrier Generation III is 23 percent lighter, and features sports graded shoulder straps for better fitment and reduces the current protective vest’s length by almost 1.25 inches, to the Times.

Male Marines aren’t the only ones who should expect improvements. A model for female Marines comes in 4.8 pounds lighter and two inches shorter.

The plate carrier under development is gender-neutral thus removing the need for a separate male and female fit, according to the news source.

Plate carrier generation III prototype
Plate Carrier Generation III prototype
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Marine Corps Systems Command

“The new sizes will include small short, x-small short, small long, and a 6-by-6 inch side-plate,” says Hamby.

“These new sizes will provide small stature Marines with a better fit and reduce the weight that would be associated with wearing a plate larger than necessary,” she continues.

Innovation is also spurring development of new body-armor inserts.

The status quo is currently 18 pounds of protective inserts. Current inserts have been successful at stopping current threats, but “the performance comes with a cost in heavier, more expensive plates,” explains Hamby.

The news source explained development is focusing on a series of ballistics tests to determine whether a smaller plate can still defeat threats faced by Marines on the modern battlefield.

The end state is to achieve, “varying degrees of performance, weight, and cost to inform decisions on future requirements for ballistic plates,” Hamby explained.

Fitment and weight aren’t the only reasons for improvement — there are a host of security reasons to update body armor donned by U.S. troops overseas — it’s possible the enemy has a strong understanding of its capability, the news source relayed.

A military official explained to the Times, “From a force protection angle, the enemy has gotten their hands on our armor and had the chance to study it/design ways to defeat it, so they want to modernize it as often as possible.”

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