Gore-Tex Professional

USMC Looks To Recycle IMTV Armor Panels For Use In Plate Carriers

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 and 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 Size
•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.

21 Responses to “USMC Looks To Recycle IMTV Armor Panels For Use In Plate Carriers”

  1. Matt says:

    It would seem to me that at the end of the day it would be quicker, cheaper, and more efficient to sell these either to another country, sell them to civilian distributors for resale, or stockpile them for use by the NG or other civil defense users. Then take the proceeds and purchase what you need. Not only would it be faster, but it would be safer I would think. No telling how the process of doing all this will affect the performance of the actual armor. Another factor is the time it takes to repurpose these IMTV’s. It is pretty much going to require a company to be built from scratch to do this. For example, a company will have to get tooled up properly, set up a certification process, and ensure adequate quality control. All for a process/product that will eventually not be done any longer after the source is depleted. If I were a company that could do this I would take a hard look at how much start up will cost versus how much money is going to be made by doing this. I believe they will find that it might not be worth it.

    While I am all for the armed services trying to save money by repurposing perfectly good stuff, I don’t think body armor is the right thing to do it with. It such an important item we dare not provide the absolute best, regardless of cost, to our military personal. It will be interesting to see where this goes.

    • Matt says:

      My last sentence there did not make sense. What I meant was that we should provide the absolute best armor to our soldiers. Bottom line.

    • SSD says:

      Agreed with all except that funds from the sale would end up back in the general fund.

      • Matt says:

        Where would they go? Ideally not into something stupid like researching toilet seats.

        • Eddie says:

          Would it still be stupid if that toilet seat research went into providing our tank crews with effective in-tank toilets? (Thinkaboutit)

          • Ab5olut3zero says:

            Nah- we’ve got the bustle rack and a fifty-cal ammo can. We’re good. 😉 lol

  2. CAVstrong says:

    I’m just happy that the Marine Corps is moving towards a Plate the Plate Carrier and way from the “Tactical Vest”

    I wish the Army would do the same….and the SPS is not a viable solution…

  3. Fly On The Wall says:

    Body armor, personnel parachutes, and breathing apparatus are probably best left in their original configuration and not re-manufactured and/or reconfigured by an aftermarket.

    I don’t really see significant savings relative to cost of cleaning, tearing down, repackaging, and recertifying the end product. This reminds me of the M35A3 program whereby a remanufactured and updated Deuce and a Half ended up costing more than an M1078 LMTV due to all the extra steps involved.

    Use the existing vest armor package for training or FMS to friendly allies in newer carriers.

    This is pennywise and pound-foolish and likely to be a disappointment from both comptroller and end-user perspectives.

    The only organization that mismanages GPF body armor worse than the US Army is the USMC.

  4. Cool Arrow Kicker says:

    There are a bunch of issues with this effort. Here are a few.

    1. Are these unissued and being shipped to the vendor in a manner that maintains Lot and Manufacturer integrity? For example, let’s say a “Lot” consists of 1,200 sets. That means the size tariff would look something like this:

    XS: 12
    SM: 120
    MD: 612
    LG: 420
    XL: 36

    So, based on this RFI, if they are sent by MFG/Lot integrity, that’s about 1,068 sets or ~12 lots that can be reconfigured from MD, LG & XL. This wouldn’t be hard, because you’d just make shoot packs for Lot Acceptance Testing (LAT) out of the XLs, test, and if they passed, start working. But what if some of the lots are just one size?

    2. If they are not shipped by MFG/LOT integrity, you’re gonna have issues. Especially if you get a failure. Remember, the government already accepted these based on the original LAT. What if some are already fielded and being used by Marines? (Hello Washington Post). In addition, the government will have NO recourse against the OEM, because they were already accepted. When it comes to armor, the only ones you know that REALLY performed as they should are the ones you shot in testing.

    3. Cost. I’m sure SSD can find the contract cost for a set of IMTV panels vs. PC. You can’t consider the IMTV panels a “sunk cost”. You need to add it to the touch labor costs to move it from the depot to the vendor, the vendor’s labor and return shipping. IMHO, it would be cheaper to just buy new inserts. It would be interesting to see the GCE and CBA for this effort.

    There really is no issue with cutting down armor. Companies have been doing it for years. But those are few, this is not. Too many variables here to mess with if it isn’t done in a manner that maintains MFG/Lot integrity.

  5. Paul J says:

    Why didn’t they make their PC compatible with those plates?

    • Cool Arrow Kicker says:

      This is for the soft armor (aka; “Plate Backers”) for the fielded USMC Plate Carrier.

      • Paul J says:

        Oh, ok.
        I would not wear any soft armor in a rifle combat.
        If I take the case of a bullet of 7.62×39 ammo fired from an AK, the soft armor will stop it at about 225yard but between 0 and 225 the SA will cause the bullet to expend and therefore making it more lethal.

        • Darkhorse says:

          Hey Paul J-

          If you’re a guy who get’s issued ballistic protection, then you should probably wear what’s given to you. If you aren’t a guy that’s issued ballistic protection, then you likely won’t be in “rifle combat” anytime soon so don’t stress. As well, not sure what “rifle combat” you’re engaging in where you don’t use a rifle ballistic plate.

          Bullets like to travel many paths during “rifle combat” and one of those paths is thru things on the battlefield (aka- rifle combat). Usually in “rifle combat” there are other pesky things such as grenades, mortars, RPG’s, spawling (from rounds hitting other things then pieces of jacket/bullet hitting you) etc. All of which instances soft armor would be beneficial.

          The likelihood of being hit by fragments of things is far greater than the likelihood of being hit directly by a bullet.

          • SSD says:

            He’s French. I think something was lost in translation.

            • Cool Arrow Kicker says:

              The current ESAPI/XSAPI ESPI/XSBI are “In Conjunction With” (ICW) plates and require the use of soft armor behind them to mitigate Back Face Deformation (BFD) and as well as catching (hopefully) anything that makes it through the plate. Hope that clarifies it for you.

              • Ab5olut3zero says:

                Add to that energy redistribution as well. Our plates are great but don’t do their jobs alone and as pointed out above, can’t stop everything including the left-over kinetic energy from the impact. If there’s nothing between you and the impacted plate, you’re going to be absorbing a whole lot of energy. Even with the soft armor, you’ll catch more than you want, but I personally want as much protection between me and any incoming as possible. Try this- have a friend whack you with a broom handle. Now have him whick you with a paper magazine between the broom and you at POI. Both suck but which one feels worse?

          • Paul J says:

            Most occidental LE use soft armor and may be engaged by someone with a rifle or RPG if you want.
            Usually Flak jacket aren’t design to stop pistol shot but will stop grenade fragments and some 3a body armor aren’t stab or grenade fragments proof, that’s why we shouldn’t make compromise.

        • AW says:

          Paul your completely wrong. Soft Armor will not stop an AK Round. Even at 1000 yards its not going slow. It would need to get to around 1600 FPS for the soft armor to be effective. I think thats the V50 rating of that soft armor for bullets. Its a FRAG pack anyways, it was meant for IEDs

  6. darrel says:

    The only people who are issued IMTVs are pogues, no offense to any pogues browsing. By their definition, they don’t do much field work, so they turn in their CIF/IIF fairly new, in serviceable condition. The panels from the IMTVs are more than likely in good ballistic condition, so it makes sense to want to be able to recycle them.

    Honestly, they could probably make more money just selling them to some foreign military.