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USMC Awards Vertical Protective Apparel $62 Million Contract For Gen III Plate Carriers

Yesterday, the US Marine Corps awarded Vertical Protective Apparel, LLC, of Shrewsbury, New Jersey, a $62,612,464 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract to produce and deliver the PC Gen IIIs. A maximum quantity of 225,886 will be delivered, and the work will be completed by September 2023.

“The legacy carrier fit the span of the Marine Corps, but this new system is more tailorable to fit Marines of various sizes with three new smaller-stature options,” said Flora “Mackie” Jordan, body armor engineer for the Infantry Combat Equipment Team at MCSC. “We wanted to give as much mobility back to Marines as possible by reducing the weight and bulk of the vest without decreasing ballistic protection. We were able to reduce the weight of the vest by 25 percent.”

The goal was to lighten the load Marines carry to reduce fatigue and improve their operational capability in the field. A few new features of the PC Gen III contributed to the weight reduction.

Excess material was removed from the shoulders and about an inch-and-a-half was taken from the bottom, which provides better integration with the USMC Pack. The team also chose a laminated laser cut material that only absorbs seven percent of water compared to 70 percent with the legacy system.

“We made sure to get the best system for our Marines, which included choosing the best lightweight soft armor and the best quality when it comes to the cut and sew of the carrier,” said Mackie.

While conducting research, MCSC discovered Marines are eight percent faster when the PC Gen III systems were combined with prototype lightweight plates, compared to the Enhanced Small Arms Protective Inserts. They also found Marines could remove and reassemble the vest in less than three seconds.

“With the old system, it took about seven seconds to take it off, and 10 minutes to reassemble,” said project officer Capt. Frank Coppola, Infantry Weapons at MCSC who helped test the vests. “The new quick release works a hundred times better. It has a vastly improved quick detach system for Marines to act fast while on missions.”

The PC Gen III is less bulky and easier for Marines to move in, especially when working in tight spaces. An inner vest was also added to increase modularity of the system. Marines can adjust it to meet the requirements and environment of their particular mission.

“Our vests have come a long way over the past 15 years, and the reduced weight and increased mobility is huge,” Coppola said. “The fact that we can decrease the size of the vest and still be protected is the key.”

Infantry, school house, and Reconnaissance Marines, along with vehicle crewmen and combat engineers will receive the vests when fielding begins in the third quarter of fiscal year 2019.

Information provided by the MARCORSYSCOM PAO contributed significantly to this report, particularly the quotes from PM-ICE.

15 Responses to “USMC Awards Vertical Protective Apparel $62 Million Contract For Gen III Plate Carriers”

  1. Strike-Hold says:

    Is that a licensed First Spear design?

    • Grammick says:

      Not sure what this is worth, but the video posted above from MCSC mentions those are First Spear quick release tubes.

  2. Ed says:

    For the life of me, why do want fast-tex buckles on the shoulders and why is the front/rear so high? That Torso length is ridiculous.

    • Richie says:

      Actually, it is shorter than the previous vest, the picture shows it with a larger plate in a tall configuration, it comes in different sizes and is “more tailorable to fit Marines of various sizes”. Buckles tho….

  3. Kevin says:


    I said the same thing at the industry day and was told to shut up and color, essentially. They sought no input from industry at the industry day and did not want to hear about how much of a hot mess this thing is going to be. I specifically pointed out the fastex buckles on the shoulders and how much that is going to suck while rucking, and the designer told me that Marines could just wear their rucksack shoulder straps further out. This was the USMC’s ?th stab at a new body armor system fleet-wide since 2000? Oy.

    • Ed says:

      Damn! Thanks for the info. It would be nice “IF” they would research other models and services use of PC’s to get a baseline. I dig it might be lighter than older models and the First Spearish laser cut MOLLE. I’ve never been a fan of plates that dig into my lap when sitting/driving or more material over shoulder than need be.

      what can a grunt do?

      • Kevin says:


        I filed a Congressional complaint when my FOIA request to HQMC/PM-ICE didn’t get me anywhere. I wanted to see their homework and the design basis for this abortion. The patterns were a nightmare and went through more than one revision. The concept of one family of armor for everybody but MARSOC and Aviation was interesting, but the execution is sorely lacking. The suggestion, for example, that LAV crewmen could wear the soft armor in the vehicle and then dismount, partially disassemble the vest, and attach the load carriage portion (the laser cut stuff) outside the vehicle to do dismounted stuff like bail out, pull security or work on the vehicle struck me as…interesting. The separate load carriage portion of this thing would probably also be a nightmare in hot weather, imagine wearing a solid chest panel of laminate and a back panel of 500d with no texturized air mesh, etc. Most of the thermal penalty of wearing the armor with none of the ballistic benefit.

        What the USMC should have done was put the requirements out to industry as far as materials, salient features and load carriage ability and then let industry answer. My gut tells me that somewhere in the first couple years of fielding, retrofit kits from industry, a reworking, or mid-program cancellation and new solicitation might happen, ala the MTV.

        • Ed says:

          Those MTV’s/OTV’s are Waaayyyyy too heavy! Lol

          • Ken Cropper says:

            Who is the supplier-based on what I have found they source mainly from Asia and have no US mfg? Who is actually making the vests? First Spear and why did they not bid directly?

  4. Lone Element says:

    Hahaha really you don’t say Frank!? Marines are faster when they carry less weight!? Wow! in other news “water is wet” You know what would have been an amazing system that’s light weight scable and extremely Versatile? Crye AVS I mean all of USSOCOM uses it but I’m glad MCSC wasted tax payer dollars on developing this super advanced cutting edge piece of kit!

  5. James says:

    The company that won this had their CAGE code Registered in March of 2018….and they just got a $62 Million contract with no other government contracts on record.. WTF.

    Did they partner with First Spear on this to be the manufacturer and license the first spear laser cutting patent or will they be receiving a cease and desist from First spear…or Crye Precision.

    Remember, Crye has sued First Spear for infringing on the laser cutting patent that Crye Precision has. The USMC solicitation for the plate carrier referenced the First Spear patent.

    I saw the national molding Tactik Buckle on the new USMC plate carrier earlier this week at modern day marine (see earlier post of the buckle here on soldiersystems for a close up picture of this).

    Will this new USMC plate carrier use the Tubes Buckle or the Tactik Buckle? or both?

    This is either some well planned contract between industry and the USMC contracting office with backroom deals done or it’s going to be a hot mess of protests, lawsuits and/or worse.

    Interesting times. 100% agree with all of the above comments too on the design and the mess we have had with the patterns.

  6. Merlot says:

    Face palm. Let’s break this down IRT to the system this thing is replacing.

    Claim: “With the old system, it took about seven seconds to take it off”

    Fact: All you needed to do was pull the release cable which disengaged the cummerbund from the rear (which is almost identical to the SOCOM RBAV), then release one of the shoulder side release buckle. That didn’t take seven seconds. The young captain is confused as to the difference between “emergency doffing” and just taking it off, which depending on how tired and how much stuff is on it, could take a varying time.

    Claim: “…and 10 minutes to reassemble,”

    Fact: Reassmbly only requires the individual to reinsert the cable in the cummerbund half it was in, open the rear cummerbund flap, place the cummerbund halves back in, run the three Dacron loops through the eyelets on the cummerbund, thread the cable, close the flap and then reattach the shoulder. Once again, the young captain is confused. Maybe, with dip spit breaks and paying attention to the TV it would take you 10 minutes to put it together “out of the bag” (soft armor, hard armor and carrier) but not if you pulled the quick release. And why would you want to put a vest back together after emergency ditching it?

  7. GD442 says:

    Realistically gentlemen in this forum….it’s still better than what the army has.

    • Merlot says:

      Actually, if you look at the Army’s new plate carrier (which was a previous USMC Design) and this one, they are very close. So much so that General Milley pretty much said “WTF???!!!” when the two were placed side by side. He further stated that the services should select “best of breed” in the realm of individual equipment as we are all paying for it.

  8. Tom says:

    The shoulder area looks like a complete mess, way too bulky, whilst the rest doesn’t seem to bad although they could have just gone with a COTS solution.

    Raine tube covers would be a good addition: