Defense Media Network

The Marine Corps Explores New Body Armor Concepts

United States Marine Corps Systems Command (MARCORSYSCOM) is in the process of exploring new industry concepts for individual body armor. Dubbed Modular Armor System (MAS), the future design is seen as allowing the individual Marine to configure and tailor the armor level based on mission requirements. MARCORSYSCOM has begun the process of conducting market research and identifying potential sources and best practice information towards designing, developing, and procuring MAS.

Areas of specific interest include completely new, innovative solutions as well as reviewing industry capabilities to provide an updated solution that includes reuse of in-service components (i.e. plates, soft armor) of currently fielded systems.

In a mid-November industry announcement, service representatives outlined a vision for “a single system that will be capable of providing the area of coverage of the current USMC Plate Carrier and expanding to a soft armor area of coverage equal to the USMC Improved Modular Tactical Vest (IMTV) with the Pelvic Protective System Protective Overgarment (POG). The system will be able to provide supplemental armor protection to the extremities.”

“The envisioned system will either integrate with current hard armor ballistic plates or a new hard armor plate design,” it stated, adding, “There are no constraints on symmetry or materiel for soft and hard armor.”

Additional system features will include the use of Pouch Attachment Ladder System (PALS) webbing for the mounting of modular pouches as well as a single pull emergency release located on the center of the vest below the neckline to allow quick release in various emergency settings.

In terms of weight, MAS is not to exceed the cumulative weight of the current IMTV with torso and flank plates.

Interestingly, in a subsequent announcement, the Individual Armor Team, Program Manager Infantry Combat Equipment, MARCORSYSCOM, announced that they will be conducting part of their body armor explorations at the 2012 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas, Nev. Over the past decade, “The SHOT Show” has expanded its exhibited array of technologies with potential military application.

The Marine Corps Individual Armor Team representatives attending the 2012 SHOT Show are making appointments to meet with vendors at their booths for up to forty-five minutes on January 18 and 19, with meeting opportunities also being provided for non-exhibitors at a nearby common space location.

Once SHOT Show sessions are filled, all remaining requestors will be offered time slots for meetings during an Individual Armor Team Industry Day on May 17, 2012 in Stafford, Va.
According to the original announcement, a limited quantity (i.e. up to 30) of evaluation systems may be requested under a bailment agreement to support user evaluation activities based on the results of service market research. However, no user evaluations are planned prior to June 2012.


Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...