It would certainly seem so. Although no formal announcement has been made regarding the winner of the Soldier Protection System program, the Army seemingly prematurely (how is April 24 for premature?) posted an announcement for a Pre-Solicitation Meeting for Product Manager Soldier Protective Equipment (PM SPE) Soldier Protection System Torso Extremity Protection. That’s to give potential manufacturers a heads up on what they’ll want produced.
What’s interesting is the timing (24 April, 2015) and wording of the announcement.
The purpose of this meeting is to communicate the updates to the proposal and technical requirements of the SPS-TEP program should the Government Design be selected as the highest rated system out of the developmental program.
I’ve never seen them plan a meeting based on a product that may potentially be selected and notice they didn’t announce meetings in the off chance that they chose any of the three commercial contenders (Hawk, Point Blank or Safariland).
If that wasn’t enough, the Army also announced that they plan to release a Request For Proposals for the Torso Extremity Protection – Ballistic Combat Shirt component of SPS as well as the Modular Scalable Vest on May 21st. They’ll also be releasing solicitations for the Load Distribution System on or about 15 May. Sounds like they know what they want and don’t have to work out any IP issues; once again pointing to the government candidate.
For those interested, the government solution will look quite similar to this stand up image displayed during a design review late last year.
For those of you unfamiliar with SPS, it is a PEO Soldier sponsored development program managed by PM SPE. There’s a head protection system that looks quite promising in light of the mediocre performance of ECH but right now we’ll concentrate on the Torso Extremity Protection system. While it includes armored combat clothing (BCS), Blast Pelvic Protector (BPP), and new Load Distribution System (LDS), the heart of SPS TEP is the Modular Scalable Vest which is one of four systems which integrates into the SPS TEP and consists of a low profile vest with four soft armor panels (one front, one back, and two side cummerbunds) covered in a camouflage cloth and hook and loop. Like current systems, soft armor panels are inserted into a tactical outer carrier that also accommodates hard armor protective inserts. The tactical outer carrier also contains two side plate pocket that will accommodate soft armor inserts. The outer carrier is made of a flame resistant outer cloth, webbings, hook/loop, polyethylene stiffener, a quad-release system, and several other non-ballistic materials.
The Load Distribution System is designed to offer the capability to redistribute the weight burden on the torso vest and load bearing while being carried horizontally, close to the body’s center of mass. The LDS is an integral part of the SPS TEP design with the LDS belt containing soft armor that provides fragmentation and handgun protection to the lower back and abdomen region. The LDS will provide Warfighters with the ability to mount additional equipment directly to the belt using the MOLLE retention system. The ruck integration component includes: a frame adapter, torso vest compatible shoulder straps, and an LDS belt adapter.
UPDATE – Although there is a helmet representing the Integrated Head Protection System in the photo above, it is not the subject of this article.