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The Improved Outer Tactical Vest: Lightweight Tactical Equipment Providing Better Protection

April 26, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 254

Fielded in 2007, the Improved Outer Tactical Vest (IOTV) is an upgrade to the Outer Tactical Vest (OTV). A fully-integrated vest with better maneuverability, the IOTV offers the soldier lightweight comfort with maximum protection. Compared to the OTV, the IOTV is three pounds lighter and provides an equal level of protection over a greater area. Although the IOTV has been in use for nearly four years, body armor for the military went through changes in late 2010 and early 2011.

As tactical equipment that integrates with uniforms and ECWCS garments, the IOTV offers ballistic protection and fragmentation through various features. The latest generation of body armor is equipped with small arms protective inserts (SAPI), enhanced small arms protective inserts (ESAPI), enhanced side ballistic inserts (ESBI), soft ballistic insert pockets, a yoke/collar fragmentation protector, a throat protector, groin protectors, and adjustable plate pockets.

The IOTV was designed with modularity, comfort, and accessibility in mind. The body armor has MOLLE attachment points; removable and replaceable components; a waist belt to improve load distribution; adjustable shoulder and side straps; and a quick-release cable system that separates the body armor into two halves. The quick-release cable function should only be used in extreme situations, however, such as combat emergencies or in instances medics need to access and treat a soldier.

Additional protection is being added to the IOTV for soldiers in Afghanistan. The number of troops wounded by IEDs increased from 22 per month in 2008 to 281 per month in 2010, according to article "Brass Ponders Better Armor for War-Zone Troops" from the Army Times. As a result, the Pentagon is experimenting with below-the-waist forms of protection from explosives. For additional protection against IEDs, troops in Afghanistan were recently issued titanium athletic cups, bike shorts and heavy silk underwear, handheld ground penetrating radar (GPR) systems, and heavyweight chaps.

Different protective gear is being issued in Iraq, however. At the end of 2010, soldiers deployed to Iraq for Operation New Dawn were given new plates, X Small Arms Protective Inserts (XSAPI) and X Side Ballistic Inserts (XSBI), to replace ESAPI and ESBI, respectively, but the plates issued have not been tested thoroughly to be considered strong enough for combat operations. Both plate types provide better protection than ESAPI and ESBI but are 10-percent heavier. As a result, the plates do not meet the Army's requirements for many types of tactical equipment: increased protection at a lighter weight.

Source: EzineArticles
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