The US Army’s latest improvement to the soldier’s gear has finished its final round of field testing. The testing was conducted in mid-October by soldiers with the 71st Ordnance Group and the 10th Chemical Hazardous Response Company, at Fort Carson, Colorado. From an article at the Army News Service:
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Soldiers with the 71st Ordnance Group (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) and 10th Chemical Hazardous Response Company participated in the final round of field-testing for the Army’s new body armor, the Modular Scalable Vest, known as MSV, during a weeklong series of evaluated tasks conducted here Oct. 16-20.
According to the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center’s website, the MSV is part of the Soldier Protection System and is the Army’s next generation Personal Protective Equipment system. The SPS is a modular, scalable, tailorable system designed to defeat current threats at a reduced weight in comparison to the Army’s existing PPE.
Stephen McNair, test manager for Project Manager Soldier Protection Individual Equipment, a division of Program Executive Officer Soldier at Fort Belvoir, was on-site to observe as Soldiers conducted an obstacle course, weapons training, don and doffing procedures, tactical vehicle access capabilities, and a ruck march.
“We have been working on this vest for the past five years and have since have gone through four versions of the vest and an additional two versions of the Soldier plate carrier system,” said McNair.
McNair said once the evaluation is complete, the vest will go into production and is expected to reach Soldiers in the field by summer of next year.
The Modular Scalable Vest will replace the much criticized generation II Improved Outer Tactical Vest (IOTV II), which is the standard issue load bearing equipment for US Army troops today. The IOTV II system has been heavily criticized for its lack of adjustability, discomfort (including excessive heat, and the weight of the load being distributed too much on the soldier’s shoulders rather than their hips), and for the long time it takes to put it on. The Modular Scalable Vest is one component of the Army’s new Torso and Extremity Protection System (TEP), which includes the MSV as well as the Ballistic Combat Shirt (BCS) (which replaces the Deltoid and Axillary Protector), the Blast Pelvic Protector (BPP), and the Load Distribution System (LDS). All of these components are a part of the new Soldier Protection System (SPS), which will also include a new lighter weight helmet with modular visor and cheek guard, new eye protection, and an integrated soldier data system that will monitor the soldier’s vital signs and temperature.
In recent decades, the soldier’s load has risen to critical levels. Improved and lightened load bearing equipment will be key to managing that weight, and hopefully bring it down to a more reasonable level.