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SPD 9 – Weight Redistribution Device

Each year the Army runs a Soldier Protection Demonstration to take examine some aspect of armoring troops and take a look at the state of industry and see how they would solve that problem. Sometimes they issue a new piece of kit based on the results of an SPD and others they use the data to refine requirements.

For example, while 2009’s SPD 7 resulted in the fielding of the Soldier Plate Carrier System, you may not remember last year’s SPD 8 which evaluated scalable multi-threat body armor systems. That one seems to have went quietly into that good night although we hear rumors that TRADOC is using data from that experiment to work on a requirement for a scalable armor system.

Earlier this week the Army released the RFP for the the SPD under the name, “Weight Re-distribution System for IOTV“, not exactly beating you over the head that this is the RFP for the SPD, this has long been the manner in which SPDs are released so that you have to be in the know to look for the right announcement. Even then, the Fed Biz Opps announcement is pretty curt. If you want to see the real requirement you need to go here.

So, this year the theme is Weight Redistribution. Since industry has taken the materials side (woven aramids) as far as it can go at this time, they are now looking at how the load interacts with the body. For several years companies have been developing systems to move the weight of the armor to the hips in much the same manner as the backpacking industry did over 30 years ago. That’s right, 30 years.

Most notably, long time readers of SSD will remember Archangel Armor’s Internal Frame Load Bearing Armor. However, their system recently received a serious redesign shed weight and bulk. Additionally, last year Crye Precision introduced their Structural Kinetic Support System (StKSS) which pairs their armor system with a belt to transfer the load through two staves. London Bridge Trading Company has also thrown their hat into the ring with the Comfort Armor Suspension System (CASS). All transfer the load from the shoulders to the hips.

The Army has been informally looking at several commercial varieties of these systems for some time now and its good to see them finally do something more formal. But, in our opinion, until armor, fighting, and sustainment loads are all looked at as load problems and a common chassis is developed to support them in a modular and scalable manner, then we will continue to see increased weight due to to redundancy.

Specifically, the Army is interested in transferring the weight of the IOTV and SPCS (Plate Carrier) to the hips and sacrum. They are going to look at the tradeoff off between the device’s weight (less than lbs) and how much it increases comfort and performance as well as how increased bulk will affect the Soldier’s ability to move, shoot, and communicate.

Those interested have until April 11th to offer up their solution. Generally, three or four vendors are selected to produce 10 examples of their technology. Then, the Army runs them through their paces. Don’t expect to hear how any of these systems do though. The Army refused our requests for information last year for SPD 8.

3 Responses to “SPD 9 – Weight Redistribution Device”

  1. Paulie says:

    When will the Army get it’s collective head out of it’s fourth point of contact?

  2. Aaron says:

    Looking at armor systems and packs that are currently on the market there’s some ok options. The SPC is not a solution, I look at it, although it does reduce weight it doesn’t have the necessary parts required to wear effectively on the body.

    The Eagle CIRAS wears pretty nice overall. Crye has a great system that should distribute the weight quite effectively and the same can be said with the CASS by LBT. As far as pack systems are concerned, Mystery Ranch is leading the industry, just take a glance at their NICE frame. I’ve had heavy loads and it hasn’t been nearly a problem unlike the old two piece MOLLE ruck and the now single piece MOLLE ruck. Arcteryx is a nice internal frame system that the Corps uses but now they want to integrate with an armor system. That’s where the last Archangel platform was interesting is because you could integrate a Mystery Ranch pack with the armor system.

    In comparison to both Arcteryx and Mystery Ranch systems, I leave out Kifaru because of price and time between order and receiving the shipment. Mystery Ranch took two weeks at most and the customer service is amazing…they gave me free buckles when they broke.

    The current MOLLE RUCKSACK sytem…which I have sitting in my closet does not distribute the load as effectively as is needed with the amount of crap we are required to carry these days. The yoke (shoulder straps and piece on the shoulder blades) sucks…not as much as the old system and unlike the Mystery Ranch system the the waist belt definitely does not transfer the weight to your hips effectively.

    Yes we are also talking a lot of money with the MSRP of the current system being $347.57:,-NSN-8465%252d01%252d523%252d6276-(ACU-Pattern).html

    And the NICE 6500 in single color costs $625 with the frame:

    Only $375 bag if you already have a frame. I know it sounds expensive…but our backs will be in much better shape when we’re fourty. Also having the frame gives the soldier a modular system because they have a ton of different bags set up to go on it depending on our mission profile.

    I’m not on here advertising or advocating for Dana Gleason…love his gear yes I do, but the Army could just as easily have taken the nod from the Corps and gone with the Arcteryx pack which is plenty Gucci as is the MR stuff…but it distributes weight very effectively. But the big Army way is to throw money at a problem.

  3. wyhunter says:

    “But, in our opinion, until armor, fighting, and sustainment loads are all looked at as load problems and a common chassis is developed to support them in a modular and scalable manner, then we will continue to see increased weight due to to redundancy.”

    Well said!

    and x2 on the Mystery Ranch gear. Arcteryx: no thanks.