In a Sources Sought Notice issued earlier this week on Fed Biz Opps by Marine Corps Systems Command (MARCORSYSCOM), Product Manager Infantry Combat Equipment (PM ICE), the service requests information on companies who are capable of converting Government owned front and back Improved Modular Tactical Vest (IMTV) soft armor inserts into Plate Carrier (PC) front and back soft armor inserts that will fit small and medium PCs.
Apparently, the Marines have excess armor panels that fit the IMTV and want to turn them into something they can put to immediate use. That part makes sense. However, there are some unknowns in the mix that could make this difficult.
Below, you can see what the proposed work would look like.
1. Removing the nylon cover from the Government furnished IMTV soft armor inserts.
2. Cutting X-Large, Large, and Medium IMTV soft armor inserts into Medium and Small PC soft armor inserts in accordance with PC Pattern: Front Back Ballistic (14007PC-FRT BCK BLST).
The PC soft armor inserts will be cut from the IMTV soft armor inserts such that the IMTV hook and loop areas are not part of the final cut PC soft armor insert.
3. Source and seal new nylon covers for the PC soft armor inserts as specified in Paragraph 3.2.3 of the Plate Carrier Detail Specification (DTL-14007A0000) and PC Pattern: Ballistic Cover (14007PC-BALSTIC COVR).
4. Source hook and loop attachments and thread for the PC soft armor inserts as specified in Paragraph 3.2.6 and Paragraph 3.2.13 of the Plate Carrier Detail Specification (DTL-14007A000). Sew the hook and loop attachments to the PC soft armor insert as specified in Paragraph 184.108.40.206 and 220.127.116.11 of the Plate Carrier Detail Specification (DTL-14007A0000) and PC Pattern: Ballistic Cover (14007PC-BALSTIC COVR).
5. Conduct Ballistic Lot Acceptance Testing of final PC soft armor inserts at a National Institute of Justice (NIJ) certified lab in accordance with Sections 4.9 and 4.11 of the Plate Carrier Detail Specification (DTL-14007A0000).
6. Provide and adhere new labels to the final PC soft armor inserts as specified in Paragraph 3.6.6 and 3.6.7 of the Plate Carrier Detail Specification (DTL-14007A0000). The label will be comprised of information from the original IMTV soft armor insert as well as new information for the PC soft armor insert. The label will include the following information:
•Original IMTV Contract Number
•Original IMTV Cage Code
•Original IMTV Date of Production
•Original IMTV LOT Number
•Original IMTV Serial Number
•PC National Stock Number
•PC Part Number
•Date of Modification
•Modification Contract Number
The big issue with this is that the armor panels will need to be recertified. Most likely, a company will need to internally “certify” each lot of armor that the Marine Corps provides prior to processing it. There’s no way they’d start work on the panels if they aren’t going to pass certification once they are modified. Then, once the lot passes, it can be reconfigured. After that, the vendor will need to certify the lot of armor once again in its new form. If panels fail, that lot is out. Naturally, a failure at this stage is most likely the fault of the vendor, caused during the reconfiduration process. But that’s why the initial testing is so important. It will rule out material defects in the original armor pack or mishandling while in govenment control.
If this transitions into an actual solicitation, vendors will need to know the full scope of work facing them by understanding how many separate lots of armor there are which require reconfiguration, and what condition they are in. For example, were they just placed in storage or were they issued.
Having said that, what the Marine Corps is asking for isn’t outside the realm of the possible. The Army has shown some very promising work on refurbishing IOTV armor panels and reusing them in new carriers but they aren’t opening armor packs, cutting the material and repackaging it. Instead, the Army is just washing existing panels. Conversely, industry will reconfigure existing panels, cutting them into new shapes, but they are doing this with their own panels and not those from a third party.
The real question is whether this is economically viable and much of that lies in the scope. How many different lots of armor are there that will require recertification testing? Because that is going to drive up cost.
If you think your company can make this work, visit www.fbo.gov.