There’s some good news for those with a deployment on the horizon: You could be among the first to receive the Army’s new armor — and unlike its predecessors, this one is lighter and scalable. Part of the Soldier Protection System, it includes a new ballistic helmet and eye protection that can switch from clear to dark shades in under a second. But the real standout is likely to be the new body armor.
The new armor could start making its way to forward deployed troops — they’ll receive it first — between 2018 and 2021, according to Army Times. The improved outer tactical vest currently does the job of protecting soldiers’ vital areas, but it weighs in at 26 pounds. The replacement, called the torso and extremity protection, or TEP system, is 5 pounds lighter and is designed to be scalable for the mission at hand.
The TEP system comes with scalable vest, ballistic combat shirt, pelvic protection system, and battle belt, all which can be worn at once — or not, if the mission doesn’t call for it. According to Army Times, production on the TEP will likely begin in May, and if all goes well, soldiers could get issued the new armor by late 2018.
Depending on the threat level facing deployed troops, the armor can be scaled from a concealable vest, all the way up to its highest level, which offers the same protection provided by the IOTV — but again, with less weight and a more flexible configuration.
Heading into the shit? Then you may be rocking the highest level of protection. On the other hand, if you’re doing some super secret-squirrel stuff, you may just sport the concealable vest with ballistic inserts, which pairs well with a jacket, operator hat, and beard.