Nearly 40 Percent Lighter Body Armor Coming to Marines in 2020

U.S. Marine Cpl. Carson P. Burke, a rifleman with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, carries an M240G machine gun during the Advanced Infantry Course (AIC) aboard Kahuku Training Area, Hawaii, July 18, 2016.(Cpl. Aaron Patterson/Marine Corps)

U.S. Marine Cpl. Carson P. Burke, a rifleman with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, carries an M240G machine gun during the Advanced Infantry Course (AIC) aboard Kahuku Training Area, Hawaii, July 18, 2016.(Cpl. Aaron Patterson/Marine Corps)

July 2, 2019 | Source: MarineTimes, Shawn Snow, 19 June 2019

The Corps is gearing up to field its new lightweight body armor plates, designed to be worn in the Corps’ low intensity or counterinsurgency style conflicts.

On Friday, the Defense Department announced the Navy awarded a nearly $216 million contract to Point Blank Enterprises for the purchase of up to 680,706 of the new lightweight plates.

Maj. Ken Kunze, a spokesman for Marine Corps Systems Command, told the Marine Corps Times that the Corps expects to kick off fielding the new plates during the second quarter of fiscal year 2020 and completing them by 2023.

The new body armor plates will protect “against the preponderance of likely threats while improving mobility and will reduce the hard body armor weight burden on Marines by 38 percent," Kunze said. 

The Corps has been in the hunt for lighter body armor as the force tries to reduce the weight burden and combat load carried by Marines and grunts, which a government watchdog report said can be as high as 117 pounds to 119 pounds.

One solution was to field a set a new set of armor plates that would provide commanders flexibility to match body armor with the threat in the region the Marines were operating in.