lighter armorU.S. Army engineers have shrunk the weight of a Enhanced Small Arms Protective Insert plate by ten percent, officials announced Monday.

The Army’s Research Laboratory reduced the weight of a size medium Enhanced Small Arms Protective Insert plate from 5.45 pounds to 4.9 pounds as part of the Advanced Body Armor Project. Army officials said the other services as well as Special Forces units would benefit from the research.

In order to reach the 10 percent reduction in weight, Army engineers and scientists worked with industry leaders to make “advances in composites, ceramics and component integration,” the Army said in a release. However, those advances didn’t happen until the Army utilized the ManTech and the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Defense-Wide Manufacturing Science and Technology programs.

The ManTech program provides funds for the service to partner with defense companies to overcome major manufacturing obstacles. The Army used this money to partner with six commercial manufacturers to reach this breakthrough, although service leaders wouldn’t name them.

Army leaders acknowledged that they’ve received repeated attempts to lighten body armor.

“The armor the Soldier is wearing right now is the best armor we can possibly give them. The one concern that we hear about it — can you make it lighter? That’s the number one request,” said Shawn Walsh, the Agile Manufacturing Technology team leader.

However, he said the ways that engineers had found weighs to drop the weight while still producing a safe plate, weren’t feasible for “mass production and fielding,” Walsh said. In other words, the lighter plates were too expensive.

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

humungus August 26, 2013 at 8:25 pm

Huh? Polyethilene already cut the weight by like 70%

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Casey August 26, 2013 at 8:38 pm

PE plates won't stop M855.

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humungus August 28, 2013 at 9:01 pm

Does the taliban use m855?

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JEM September 2, 2013 at 10:47 pm

PE plates stop M855 … had a demo at my PD… it stopped multiple shots up to .30-06

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Capt USAF September 3, 2013 at 10:30 am

The Air Force figured out a lighter plate back in 2003/2004 with the same cost. I think it's still better than this. Why the Army hasn't adopted it is beyond me. It was done out of the Air Force Research Lab, Materials and Manufacturing Directorate.

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Lance August 26, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Still hang your MOLLE gear and ammo and new rifleman radio and backpack and its still darn heavy.

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Mike11C August 29, 2013 at 10:26 am

The reason they reduce the weight of your equipment is so you can carry more equipment, not so you can travel lighter. You'll still be carrying 100 pounds of "light weight, high speed equipment".

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John D August 27, 2013 at 12:15 am

Why the military doesn't use SPECTRA STEEL is beyond me!! Way lighter, stronger that ceramic plates and can take multiple hits in same spot unlike the ceramics which shatter!

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Joshua August 27, 2013 at 8:04 am

Steel generally has incredibly bad spalling

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Super Tex August 29, 2013 at 4:56 pm

You'll still have 30+ layers of Kevlar to catch the spalling

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Alex August 27, 2013 at 10:59 am

ESAPI plates are buoyant for a short period of time, steel is not. ESAPI plates have zero spalling, steel does. Ceramic plates absorb more kinetic energy from the bullet strike and transfer less energy to the user, steel plates transfer far more energy to the user. Yes steal is cheaper and can be made to stop more but it has many disadvantages compared to ceramic plates. Yes it can stop multiple rounds and all that energy transferred to the user will leave severe bruising and a few cracked ribs, ceramic plates are far more forgiving to the user. I know this from experience in Afghanistan having been hit in both front and back plates over the course of 3 deployments as an infantryman.

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majr0d August 27, 2013 at 7:21 pm

Thanks for that post and your service. Very informative.

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straps August 27, 2013 at 12:42 pm

"Army officials said the other services as well as Special Forces units would benefit from the research."

Worst quote evahr, probably uttered (or likely paraphrased–badly) by someone who never humped kit as a Big Army PV2.

Last I checked, SF wasn't the only organization that could benefit from agility on the battlefield.

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Stefan S. August 27, 2013 at 7:41 pm

Some perspective. The paratroopers of D-Day jumped in with no body armor!

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pastorvon August 27, 2013 at 10:34 pm

And some nut decided that they should all jump at 1000 feet.

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Stefan S. August 31, 2013 at 12:48 am

They weren't at 1000 feet. Grandfather said more like 450 ft on his C-47. Another dumb comment.

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BIRTHER September 3, 2013 at 6:10 pm

MOST all the jumps were from 350 AGL. SOME were so low that men hit the ground before there parachutes opened……………………………….U.S. PARATROOPER

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Riceball August 28, 2013 at 6:36 pm

And I'll bet that most of them wish they were able to jump in with body armor.

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Dustin September 4, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Better perspective… according to the US National D-day Foundation 4,414 soldiers were killing in the single battle on the single day. In Afghanistan the U.S. has lost 2,229 people in 12 years of non-stop combat.

During WWII as whole, in 4 years the Allies lost 1.5 million the U.S. lost 700,000, in 4 years. If you combine Iraq and Afghanistan over a 12 year span the U.S. has lost 6,717. Now to put that into perspective, if WWII lasted the same amount of time as Iraq and Afghanistan the total U.S. death toll could be over 2,100,000.

So 2,100,000 to 6,717… I'll keep my body armor you keep making stupid comments. Sorry but I met a lot of people like that in the Army that would say stupid crap like in WWII they didn't have it, the plates don't work anyways etc. I almost got into an actual fight with a buddy that wanted to go without plates because some jackass cold war era NCO told him the helmets and plate don't work it's just BS to make money. That uneducated crap gets people hurt.

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Joe September 4, 2013 at 6:42 pm

Wow, that's the one of the most educated comments I've seen on this site.

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Tom August 10, 2014 at 1:34 am

and we lost 400,000 troops in 3 years of warfare

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pastorvon August 27, 2013 at 10:32 pm

Some editor should read the last paragraph again.

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OMEGATALON August 28, 2013 at 6:56 pm

Put this new body armour over an diesel electric exoskeleton with a secure internal atmosphere and you've got IRON MAN 1.0.

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JerseyAngel2 August 29, 2013 at 10:59 am

It is well known that soldiers have coplained about the weight of armor. The most important thing is that armor protects the soldier from serious internal injuries. It is my hope that this 'new' body armor does not in any way reduce the protection for our beloved soldiers.

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Indian Medicine August 29, 2013 at 1:47 pm

This weight reduction will enable a "Dragon Skin" design that really works as I understand.

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SleepyDave August 30, 2013 at 4:56 pm

“We’ve shaved a pound of armor off. So, you’ll be carrying more ammo.”

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bum291 September 5, 2013 at 4:32 am

They'll shoot around a bit and that's solved… (not intended to be taken 100% serious)

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Lisa August 31, 2013 at 7:35 pm

The most important thing is that armor protects the soldier from serious internal injuries. I hope that this 'new' body armor does not in any way reduce the protection for our beloved soldiers.

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John Wayne August 31, 2013 at 9:10 pm

Where was the body armor in Vietnam? Star Trek had a force field, what we need is invisible solders or holograms to give the enemy a target to get their position. Assad was set up as he new if he usd chemicals the World would turn on Him, and like the truth about Sadams WMD, the Movie that cause the attack on Bengazy that was defended for months, I guess were expected to believe anything, like Agent Orange only affects foliage and the M-16 was the best weapon they ever produced. No wonder we never lost any wars because we are the good guys trying to free the Earth of tyranny while training, suppling, paying, rebuilding, destroying, killing, educating, feeding, nursing, we have our enemies come to Our Country to live next door and invest as they make better citizen as they were taught by the best and most Honest people on Earth who share everything fairly and evenly, Allah, bless America. Th Home of the brave decision makers, where the banks are to big to fail and only those who work for the State or Federal Government are doing so well that they are the only one's who don't need food stamps.

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BRIAN September 3, 2013 at 8:37 pm

DKX Armor: Light, buoyant, pistol or rifle styles, 2.9 lbs & 20 oz respectively.

Check them out: http://www.dkxarmor.com/#page-about-dkx-solutions

If we can help let us know: info@tostactical.com or Facebook- TOS Tactical

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mcs September 8, 2013 at 11:03 pm

Military working with industry to lighten soldier load and maintain protection.
How it should be.

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