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New vest, plates save lives

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 20051219153
Story by Lance Cpl. Sha'ahn Williams

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va (Jan. 20, 2005) -- With the face of war constantly changing, the Marine Corps continues to adapt in order to properly equip and protect its Marines.

One of the latest innovations is an improved Outer Tactical Vest with small arms protective inserts, which will soon replace the old Personnel Armor System Ground Troop Flak Vest.

“Alone, the OTV defeats fragmentation and 9mm rounds - something the flak vest doesn’t do,” said Maj. Wendell B. Leimbach Jr., Combat Equipment Infantry Combat Equipment Team leader.

Used with small arms protective inserts, it provides protection from 7.62 mm and 5.56 mm rounds.

“While the OTV will stop fragmentation and 9 mm rounds, the SAPI plate is required to spread out the energy of the bullet’s impact, therefore, they must be worn as a set,” explained Leimbach.

“The most noticeable differences between the old and new vests are the molle weaving used to hang things on the front of the OTV, and the pockets in the front and back of the vest to insert SAPI plates,” said Gregory L. Hauck, contract support leader for the equipment team.

“The SAPI plates that go inside the vest are plates made from a ballistic ceramic tile backed by multiple layers of unidirectional ballistic material,” said Leimbach. “The ceramic tile breaks up the bullet and the fabric catches the fragments.”

The SAPI plates defeat multiple hits of M80 rounds.

“This vest protects Marines from rounds fired as close as point-blank range,” Leimbach said. “It’ll hurt like hell, but you’ll live!”

“These vests have made a tremendous change in war history as far as the casualty rates are concerned,” said Hauck.

“For every casualty, there are eight wounded. That is the lowest wartime death rate in history,” he said. “And it is directly attributed to the new armor and fast medical attention.”


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