It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
It’s bigger, easier to get out of — and just a bit heavier — but Corps officials say the new body armor vest will take care of Marines and make them more combat effective than they’ve ever been.
Marine officials have released the first details of the new vest, known as the Modular Tactical Vest, after showing a prototype to Commandant Gen. Mike Hagee, who reportedly liked what he saw and gave it the final nod Oct. 19.
Officials say the MTV — which Marines will start wearing in February — is more comfortable, offers more areas of protection from bullets and shrapnel, and distributes the load better.
There’s just one catch: At least for now, the MTV is about one pound heavier than the Interceptor Outer Tactical Vest system Marines have been wearing in combat since the war in Afghanistan began in October 2001.
Officials say the extra pound is offset by an improved weight-distribution system. And when you consider that the MTV offers far more side protection than the old Interceptor system, the extra pound or so is worth it, said Capt. Jeff Landis, a spokesman for Marine Corps Systems Command at Quantico, Va.
New features include:
• Quick-release capability to allow Marines to get out of the vest in a hurry.
• Increased coverage, including the lower back and kidney area, side torso and shoulder.
• Integrated side armor plate pouches.
• Wiring channels for communications gear.
• Rifle bolster to allow the shooter to seat his weapon into his shoulder for proper firing.
• Improved closure strap system.
• “Component-compatible” features that allow users to attach other load-bearing items such as packs or ammo easily.
All this adds up to a better fighter, Corps officials said.
“Because of our forward thinking of comfort to the wearer and load-bearing capabilities, we do think we’ll have a more combat-effective war fighter,” Landis said.
The new vest offers the same ballistic protection against shrapnel and 9mm rounds and uses the same front, back and side ceramic plates as the Interceptor.
Lance Cpl. Steven A. Garner was chosen to try out the next generation of body armor. Marines have used flak jackets for years and now it is time for the next improvement, the Modular Tactical Vest, or MTV. Garner was part of a group of Marines selected from various units, world-wide, to test new flak jacket designs.
In the early stages of development, there were 19 designs, and one-by-one they were eliminated in favor of prototypes which better suit the Marines’ needs. Three designs remain.
“The new flak designs are definitely an improvement,” said Garner, an assaultman with 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment. “You feel safer because it provides a larger area of protection.”
Garner has tested the flaks by participating in hikes, and simulated jumping out of “crashed” helicopters, planes, amphibious assault vehicles, and going through obstacle an obstacle course while firing at targets. These tests were designed to represent various needs of the Marines in combat.
The new flak designs feature integrated side SAPI plates, increased load-bearing capabilities, rifle holsters and a quick-release.
The Marine Corps recently released the first details of its new vest, known as the Modular Tactical Vest after Commandant Gen. Mike gave it the final nod Oct. 19.
Corps officials said the MTV — which Marines will start wearing in February — is more comfortable, offers more areas of protection from bullets and shrapnel, and distributes the load better.
But Army officials are not as impressed.
The new vest may be more comfortable, but it’s also 2 pounds heavier than the Interceptor and does not offer superior ballistic protection, said Col. Mark Conley, director of maneuver, soldier and sustainment systems for the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisitions, logistics and technology.
The MTV and the Interceptor “are equal in the ballistic protection they provide for the soldier,” he said. “If it [provided] more protection, we would probably be doing it.”
Soldiers and Army scientists are testing a new system of body armor that can be custom-fitted to each individual.
The vest is built on a sleek, armored chassis designed to make heavy combat loads easier to carry while providing soldiers with more ballistic protection in a lighter package. It has special channels on the inside to allow air to circulate and heat to escape, and it will cover 18 percent more of the soldier’s body.
In addition to the vest, there’s also a better-fitting, more comfortable ballistic helmet that comes with built-in, flip-down eye protection.
The research and development of the vest is part of the Army’s Future Force Warrior program, an Advanced Technology Demonstration designed to test new technologies in soldier equipment for fielding in 2010.
The body armor is just one part of the program that will eventually include an onboard computer network of high-tech communications gear, weapons with digital fire control systems and light-weight power sources.
The system is designed to be radically more functional than the current Interceptor body armor, said Philip Brandler, director of the Army’s Soldier Systems Center at Nadick, Mass.
What did surprise me, though, was the Army's interest in the story. I couldn't figure out why the Army had such an interest in a story about Marine Corps body armor until I saw a letter to the editor in Stars and Stripes, an independent newspaper widely read by troops overseas.
The letter's author complained that an article about the MTV "implied the Marine Corps' new [body armor] is superior to the Army's. … This is a disservice to soldiers wearing [the Army's body armor]." So, that was why the Army was so interested in my story; they thought that it would create the impression that Marines were wearing better body armor than Army soldiers.
For the record, the MTV uses the same ballistic shields as the Army body armor. The differences have to do with the way it fits on your body and the way it allows a Marine to carry all his combat gear.
To me, the Marine vest felt more comfortable because it distributes the 30-pound weight over your entire torso instead of having the weight hanging on your shoulders. But it still leaves some very vital parts of your body exposed to a sniper.