Has The US Army Already Selected an SPS TEP Winner?

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.  

64 Responses to “Has The US Army Already Selected an SPS TEP Winner?”

  1. Doc_robalt says:

    I only have two things to say, look at previous post where Australia’s guys are wearing Crye Airframes & look at the Protective Outer Garmet aka POG LOL couldn’t have named it better lol

  2. Tanner says:

    ^^^ Only thing he is missing is his ballistic water wings!

  3. Steve says:

    The best part is that this new ensemble will lead to fewer AR 600-9 separations, as a helmet that big and heavy will results in huge necks.

  4. badjujuu says:

    If you thought that shooting with a pro mask on is tough…and this model looks like my 6 year old when he puts on my ACH…..

  5. Shinola says:

    OMG, the headgear makes him look like my son playing Pee Wee football (massive helmet, tiny body). Or Dark Helmet from Spaceballs.

    +1 Steve, necks will be massive wearing all that with NVGs and comm gear…

  6. Disco says:

    It would be hard to go on road marches in that without humming the storm trooper theme

  7. John says:

    How much does all that weigh? Having wandered around the mountains in Afghanistan with 3-10 MTN and 4-25 IN (ABN) as a PL and CO CDR I think I would much rather have the ability to maneuver and uses my senses- that helmet probably doesn’t help.

  8. Casey says:

    cui bono?

  9. CAVStrong says:

    Nope. Just Nope. Don’t want. Try again Big Army.

    Also read the short story “Superiority” by Arthur C. Clarke.

    and again….Nope!

  10. mike says:

    go home Helmet you’re drunk

  11. Jon, OPT says:

    Holy cranium!

    I’m not kidding, that boy’s head is like Sputnik; spherical but quite pointy at parts! Now that was offside, wasn’t it? He’ll be crying himself to sleep tonight, on his huge pillow.

    Jon, OPT

  12. Chris K. says:

    Can’t believe no one’s referenced this yet, but Dark Helmet much? Why don’t we take a 5 minute break? Smoke’m if you got’em.

  13. jose says:

    Is that Peyton Manning in that helmet?

  14. Steve says:

    I predict an increase in ankle injuries and yellow stains on boots from a complete inability to look down.

  15. ThatBlueFalcon says:

    Helmet aside, if that’s the final design on the elbow pads those are god-awfully bad.

    • Eddie says:

      I’m pretty sure those are McGuire Nicholas elbow pads sadly attempting to be Crye. e – e Do not want.

  16. monkey says:

    It’s a shame when plenty of companies spend tons of time and money to develop a far superior product that meets all the specs only to get screwed over by the government. Which does not meet their own specs! I’m about burnt out on all the bullshit

  17. Chuck says:

    Someone seriously cut and pasted the image of the head/helmet together. That’s a graphic design hackjob.

  18. Collin says:

    Sacrificing mobility for armor coverage. Ugh.

    • mike says:

      Yeah that thing looks like it has additional ballistic pannels on the top and back of the helmet.

      You Dawg we heard you like helmets so we put a helmet on your helmet.

      • Guy says:

        Can you even imagine the weight of that thing with the mandible protector, outer armor, and NVGs? WTF Army, didn’t you learn anything over the last 14 years?

  19. T says:

    Looks like a crappy off brand GI Joe. That helmet is a joke, and I hope the designer has to wear it in hell for eternity if it’s ever forced upon soldiers in the real world.

  20. Ty says:

    Has the Big Army lost their minds?!?

  21. Colin says:

    uhh for mounted ops? or is that scalable?

  22. babola says:

    I have to agree with others here, thos looks like a 7 year old wearing daddy’s combat uniform.
    And what’s with those pants? I hope this is just a mockup…having main cargo pockets at knee level is simply wrong.

  23. Blo says:

    How are we supposed to pack a lip/spit with that mandible thing?

  24. Greg says:

    Please no more!!! I found a sense of hope with the spcs but I knew deep inside that was to good to be true. Has anyone ever told the Army it would be helpfull if soldiers could move?

  25. JB says:

    Just. Pay. Crye. What. Ever. They. Ask.

  26. steave says:

    GAAAAAAAAAY helmet

  27. FHRITP says:

    So the load distribution system is pretty much a battle belt. One that can attach to shit to take weight off the shoulders

    And im sure the picture isnt accurate as to what we will actually be issued but that seems like an opscore helmet to me

    And the ‘pogs’ on this pictures example seem even fucking worse than the kevlar diaper that doesnt work and chaffs the shit out of you. How far is too far when it comes to the army limiting our mobility for trumped up protection? I really dont feel the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to any ‘light’ infantry platoon being able to move quickly and with less resistance

    But what do i know i just have to wear the shit >_<

  28. Ragnar says:

    ugh. if I could facepalm any harder I’d push my face through the back of my skull. The hand-wringers had a field day with this one.

  29. Cueball95 says:

    Kill me if that snow-globe becomes standard issue

    • Cueball95 says:

      and smart sensor for body armor? What does it send you a text message when you get shot?

      • CAVStrong says:

        I think it’s like the ECH Helmet sensor….. probably registers how much trauma or impact the Armor takes….because that’s important.

  30. Markvin says:

    “Psychological Status Monitor” What is this piece of wonderful technology that commanders will magically be able to see the mental health of their soldiers in combat. Sense when did they ever care about this? I can see this this as a vehicle to push more meds on soldiers.

    • Seamus says:

      It says Physiological NOT Psychological. Physiology is the study of the body’s systems (ie heart rate, repiratory rate, body temperature, blood pressure etc)

      This isn’t something that far out. If you have ever seen those “Fit Bits” that some people have on their wrist that track their exercise and sleep. Astronauts have several of these devices on them that track their health for mission control.

      I am quite sure that Uncle Sam will find a way to spend boat loads of money for fancy watches for everyone so that the platoon medic can “monitor” the status of every soldier, even though no medical professional would ever trust a “Fit- Bit” to give us the true information we need to treat a trauma casualty. Maybe in 10-20 years they will be much better and more accurate and cheaper and maybe then the Army should buy them for everyone but until then it is pointless.

      • badjujuu says:

        A paper thin sweat sensor designed for 24/7 wear can diagnose hydration levels, electrolyte balance, lactate treshhold, glucose levels and calories burned – all by analyzing sweat in real time is in the works by company called Electrozyme and a Swiss startup Kenzen.

  31. Presswolf says:

    I Think the idea is the whole thing is supposed to be scalable. so you can use as little or as much protection as the mission calls for

    • Guy says:

      Yeah, no doubt. The problem is, no one but vehicle gunners are going to wear that much crap, if at all. So at the the end of the day, the Army blows a crap load of money on gear no one is going to use, except like 5% of dudes out there.

      Also, built in elbow/knee pads? Have we not learned from our mistakes, Army? This is why people ETS lmao

    • ThatBlueFalcon says:

      Yeah, and that was supposed to be the plan for the IOTV too… Look how well that worked out.

    • CAVStrong says:

      I’m sure. You’ll have certain units out there requiring their soldiers to wear everything all of the time regardless of common sense.

  32. JG says:

    With all the extra armor weight, it looks like your basic load is now one 30 round magazine. Aim well!

  33. elliot says:

    So… We’ve forgotten what “situational awareness” means, haven’t we?

  34. DF says:

    Someone needs to integrate all of the shown kit features into one sleek design. At the moment, it looks so awkward. Perhaps ask the folks at Arcteryx or Oakley to do it?

  35. Badjujuu says:

    Is it possible that not a single person in a approval chain (prior to printing or during the design) stopped, looked others in their Windows of their souls and said: guys, this shit looks ridiculous, let’s go back to the drawing board.
    Somehow I believe this to be true. I witness plenty of moral cowardice on daily basis where people will sugar coat stuff as if they’re running a freaking bakery.
    This poster would probably do its job at the recruiting office to dazzle new Recruits. People like myself who been in a while, carried the load and dealt with metric fuck ton of PPE aren’t fooled. Try again Army.

    • Brett says:

      If the Army recruiter told me I’d be wearing that, I’d run to the Air Force.

      • badjujuu says:

        You would, and I wouldn’t blame you, but there are plenty of naive young people who see this and see “Call of Duty: Advance Warfighter” and are lured in.

  36. Matt says:

    Just curious – the poster looks like it’s set up at a conference center – what show/venue was this and who made the poster?


    • Matt says:

      NVM – just reread the article and caught the bit about the end of year review.

  37. Jon, OPT says:

    All this is missing is a speaker system with variable foreign language versions of:

    “we come in peace”

    To be played as the Soldier enters the village.

    Jon, OPT

  38. james says:

    UPDATE – Although there is a helmet representing the Integrated Head Protection System in the photo above, it is not the subject of this article.

    I guess looking at pictures is ok but many failed to read the entire post… NOT this helmet… and the Combat shirt is a huge step forward… no more Daps and yoke and collar combos…

    the MSV has some very interesting features that should help to lessen the load too…

    • Seamus says:

      How heavy are the shirts going to be in the end is my question. Will the new combat shirt also be scalable? Additionally I can’t imagine having level III Kevlar shirt sleeves being comfortable in the summer heat.

      Additionally has anyone given any thought as to the increased risk of Heat Injury due to all the additional armor (or the new jet black APFU)–>

      but maybe the US Army doesn’t care about heat injuries because—–WINTER IS COMING!!!

      • JLU says:

        Not to mention that the original requirement was for all extremity ballistics to have the ability to cut away. How does the combat shirt meet that requirement?

  39. TM says:

    Something I think is being overlooked in the comments is that as a modular/scalable system, Soldiers are not necessarily going to roll out for all missions in full storm trooper mode. At the other end of the spectrum you get low profile soft armor. Sure, some commanders are going to insist that every accessory is worn regardless of the threat/mission, but if common sense didn’t prevail occasionally we wouldn’t have units in plate carriers in AFG.

    Also, I don’t know which is more current, but the PEO Soldier profile has a better looking depiction of SPS.

  40. JLU says:

    There were two very important entities that got screwed in this debacle – industry and soldiers.

    Let us first consider industry: US companies, who make US products, for US military and law enforcement. They spend countless hours and dollars on meeting every spec laid out in a solicitation. They do so while abiding by Berry Amendment. They do so while also creating and maintaining jobs for the US economy. They are the very machine that the US government preaches about in their campaign speeches regarding the American economy. Yet… PEO would rather waste months putting on a fa├žade of “fair” competition, only to highjack implements of industry design to claim as their own, (meanwhile, changing the specifications as they go along to meet their needs). Now they get the win-win. Army design-coupled with budget cuts. Bravo Army! Somebody’s getting a star….

    More importantly, let’s consider the soldier. Specifically, let’s consider two different types of soldiers. It is clear from the comments on this article that there are some male soldiers that are less than pleased with the current selection (can’t blame you). If you are privy to all of the hoopla over the last 3+ years about the dire need for a more tailored, female body armor, which doesn’t compromise ballistic coverage, then you might find this interesting. After years of research, development and feedback from the field, a requirement was written into the SPS solicitation for a SPECIFIC female body armor shape. Industry answered. And it answered well. Industry provided a solution that tailored to the female body without sacrificing ballistic protection. That is what PEO and NATIK had been striving for all along. But, mid-stream through SPS, that spec was changed by PEO. Why? Because their design couldn’t meet the requirement. All of a sudden, the Army decided that an androgynous version of tactical gear was sufficient for our soldiers. Sorry ladies…. you’ve been on our radar for a few years now, but we just couldn’t achieve it on our own without going out to industry. So, you’re screwed…