Blackhawk!

KDH Does It Again

Like the little engine that could, KDH wins yet another armor contract. This time for 57,000 plate carriers. So this makes IOTV, IMTV/PC, and now the Army’s Plate Carrier all at the same time. Not bad for a small business. I wonder how they are getting it all done. They have opened a new factory in Eden, North Carolina that is according to recent visitors, only at half capacity. Unfortunately, the real issue with capacity these days isn’t floor space or number of machines but rather human capital. Finding qualified, experienced sewers and other textile workers even in areas where plants have closed in the past is extremely difficult.

Lots of conjecture on the web about how KDH continues to win contracts but quite honestly, it probably has a lot to do with price. Estimates indicate that KDH probably offered the plate carriers to the Army at just over $300 a pop with soft armor based on the number of vests and the amount of the award. That is about half what other companies were seeking.

KDH Plate Carrier

Interestingly, the Army handled this procurement through GSA and this is the first time that they have used GSA to purchase armor due to concerns over ballistic ratings. Additionally, the GSA solicitation was open for a fairly short window and in spite of a requirement during Soldier Protection Demonstration VII that the carriers be releasable, the GSA solicitation dropped it altogether yet they retained the 9 lbs weight threshold associated with a heavier cut-away system. Of course, neither SOCOM nor the Marines have a cut-away plate carrier system. But these oddball requirements meant that companies that did not meet the requirements for inclusion in SPD VII were able to bid on the plate carriers through GSA.

KDH lists their Soldier Plate Carrier with Quick Release System on their GSA website for $439.29 so we are unsure if they bid that at a discount via GSA or a non-releasable system. According to the description of their vest it “Includes OTV/IOTV Specification(FQ/PD 07-05 Latest Rev. CO/PD 00-02 Latest Rev.) Lvl IIIA Equivalent Soft Ballistc Inserts and Integrated Side Plate Pouches. Also available with NIJ Specifica”.

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