U.S. Army scientists are trying to show how better-fitting body armor can improve a soldier’s performance.

Members of the Anthropology and Human Factors Teams at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center are conducting a range-of-motion and encumbered anthropometry study to better understand the link between fit and performance with the Improved Outer Tactical Vest Gen III.

“We have this belief that if the fit of the body armor is really good, then the performance is going to be maximized,” Dr. Hyeg joo Choi, the principal investigator for the study, said in an Oct. 9 Army press release. “So the question is how can we quantify a good fit so that soldiers’ performance is maximized?”

To help answer that question, Choi and her fellow researchers collected measurements from 23 soldiers at Natick, including 21 males and two females.

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Enduring FreedomCommon sense tells you that wearing your helmet and body armor in combat will increase your odds of survival, but British Army researchers said evidence to objectively demonstrate the advantage of body armor is scarce.

A British medical unit mapped the surface wounds of all NATO and Afghan troops treated at the field hospital at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, from July 8 to October 12, 2012. The doctors and nurses compared the wounds with the body armor the soldiers wore.  They also mapped the wounds of those who did not have the protective helmet or armor on at the time they were hit.

And what they found was that troops wearing a helmet were 2.7 times less likely to sustain a fragmentation wound to the head than those that were unprotected. Body armor made it 4.1 times less likely that the soldier would suffer a fragmentation wound to the chest or abdomen, while a pelvis protector improved the wearer’s odds against a wound to the pelvic area by 10 times. [click to continue…]

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LAS VEGAS — Point Blank Enterprises Inc., a top supplier of body armor to the U.S. military, is out with a new series of ballistic vests that are tougher and lighter than existing products, company officials said.

The so-called Alpha Elite series comes in two versions: the Level II Elite concealable and the Level IIIA Alpha-1 tactical. The latter is 31 percent thinner and 23 percent lighter, yet 5 percent stronger than previous designs, according to Michael Foreman, vice president of government and international sales at the Pompano Beach, Fla.-based company. [click to continue…]


PMA_202_AE_vests1The U.S. Navy is working on an improved survival vest that’s designed to provide more ballistic protection for aviators while making it more comfortable to wear.

The redesigned Aircrew Endurance Survival Vest recently passed initial operating capability, a key milestone in the development of development of the life-saving equipment, the service announced in a Dec. 18 press release. The new vest is scheduled to achieve full operational capability by early 2016.

The upgraded AE survival vest provides improved ballistic-protection, superior load distribution and a new universal color for deployment in a wider variety of terrains, Navy officials said.

“Under the Aircrew Endurance program, the Navy will field a family of products all focused on reducing physical fatigue and stress during longer missions now being conducted by Navy and Marine Corps aircrew,” said Capt. Nora Burghardt, program manager at the Navy’s Aircrew Systems Program Office.

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TALOSAdm. William McRaven, head of U.S. Special Operations Command, has made it clear that he wants to build an Iron Man suit for special operators that will repel bullets and offer super human strength.

It’s been unclear how soon that Iron Man suit may be a reality. That is until Monday when the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s official Twitter page stated the U.S. wanted a contract for the suit by next fall and for full field testing to take place in “about four years.” This was written prior to linking to an article about the Iron Man suit. [click to continue…]

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Gunnery Sergeant Dempsey saved by armor plate

The Rhine Ordnance Barracks of 21st Theater Sustainment Command in Germany has received a new armor inspection system to inspect ballistic plates for deploying soldiers, the Army announced. It becomes the first armor inspection system to be established outside the U.S.

It is doubtful anyone would argue the need for inspected, readily available armor plates (certainly not Gunnery Sgt. Shawn Dempsey, picture above) for deploying personnel. Nor could anyone argue the logistical advantages of inspecting the armor closer to operational areas than another continent, in another hemisphere. However, describing the system as new is a bit of a misnomer. If you begin with the first deployed prototype, the system is at least five years old. [click to continue…]



I have to admit, I was surprised to see the Army and Marine Corps say they plan to begin fielding the long-awaited Enhanced Combat Helmet this fall. I posted a July 30 story about the announcement on 

For a while, it seemed that the ambitious endeavor was just a bridge too far for the services’ ballistic gurus — craft a new helmet that protects against rifle rounds but no heavier than the current Marine lightweight Helmet or the Army Advanced Combat Helmet.

All of  the initial design candidates for ECH failed the first round of ballistic testing in late 2009. Then some of the ECHs began failing first article tests in 2011.

Army officials didn’t say much for the story, but Marine officials blamed a lot of the program challenges on new Defense Department testing guidelines introduced in the middle of first article tests.

“The ECH is the only helmet that has been tested and passed using Director of Operational Test and Evaluation protocols,” said Deidre Hooks, ECH team lead at Marine Corps Systems Command.

Following the DOT&E protocols was a challenge because test criteria changed from a pass-fail standard to one based on statistical confidence, said Kathy Halo, ECH lead engineer.

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