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Military Body Armor is Focus of New Vector Strategy Report (posted 9/2/09)

September 2, 2009
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The U.S. military is anticipated to procure $6 billion worth of body armor for U.S. Army soldiers and Marines between 2009 and 2015.

In a recently published report, “US Military Body Armor Industry: Forecast and Analysis,” Vector Strategy forecasts that the U.S. military will procure $6 billion worth of body armor for U.S. Army soldiers and Marines between 2009 and 2015. This level of procurement will require between 70 and 75 million pounds of material to produce that armor, including ceramic tiles, aramid and UHMWPE fibers, and other non-ballistic materials.

This procurement includes sustainment needs required to maintain current body armor system components, as well as next-generation body armor components such as the enhanced combat helmet (ECH); plate carriers; the improved modular tactical vest (IMTV) for the Marines; and the next-generation vest, which will replace the U.S. Army’s current improved outer tactical vest (IOTV).

“That $6 billion of body armor will not be procured evenly between 2009 and 2015,” said Marcia Price, president of Vector Strategy. “There will be surges required for specific theater needs, and the development and procurement of the next-generation vest and plate will cause procurement volume fluctuations between now and 2015. The market will rely substantially on sustainment requirements in certain fiscal years.”

Military priorities and initiatives in the next two to three years include enhancements and improvements to current body armor components, as well as the procurement of body armor to fulfill special near-term theater needs. Specific programs within this timeframe include the IMTV for the USMC, USMC and U.S. Army plate carriers, design enhancements to the current IOTV, the ECH, lighter-weight ESAPIs and XSAPIs with current ballistic performance requirements, and lighter-weight plates with lower ballistic protection levels.

It is important for body armor manufacturers to understand the land warrior (LW) and ground soldier ensemble (GSE) systems. Although body armor is not a primary component of these systems, the systems must be integrated with body armor worn by the soldier. Integrating LW and GSE with body armor will become increasingly important as these systems undergo prototype and operational testing through 2010, and possibly broader deployment in 2011 or 2012 with the spinouts of the future combat system network.

Although development has been initiated on scalable and mission-tailorable body armor systems, Vector Strategy believes these systems will not be ready for procurement until 2012 or later. The next-generation body armor system will be developed and procured between 2012 and 2015, and it will exhibit new design and performance characteristics.

Vector Strategy believes that flexible body armor systems will not be ready for large-scale procurement and deployment within the U.S. Army or USMC until approximately 2015. This is due to a need for development of specifications and test protocols, a lack of current technical maturity, prohibitive cost, and the need to integrate the technology into a total body armor system redesign.

For more information, visit www.vector-strategy.com.

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