The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) has begun fielding a next-generation protective vest that provides improved fit, form and function for Marines.
The Plate Carrier Generation III is a lightweight plate carrying system that guards against bullets and fragmentation when coupled with protective plates. The vest will replace the legacy Plate Carrier, which was fielded in 2011. The elimination of excess material reduces the overall weight of the system and increases maneuverability.
“This system protects Marines on the battlefield,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Konicki, the Program Manager for Infantry Combat Equipment at Marine Corps Systems Command. “The PC Gen. III is important because it is nearly 25-percent lighter than the legacy technology.”
In 2016, the Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) conducted a study to analyze the components and effectiveness of a prototype version of the PC Gen. III. Marines tested both the legacy and prototype systems during various obstacle courses, including a 15-kilometer hike at a fixed pace.
The results of the study showed that participants completed the courses faster and appeared better conditioned when using the newer technology. Marines’ mobility and ability to handle a weapon improved when using the PC Gen. III prototype, said Konicki.
Another advantage of the PC Gen. III lies in its fit. MCSC increased the variation of sizes, enabling nearly 15,000 more Marines—both male and female—to fit into the system when compared with the legacy technology. The newer system also fits closer to the body, increasing protection and decreasing the risk of injury due to improper fit.
The next-generation system is designed to fit individuals of all sizes and statures—from the 2nd percentile female Marine to the 98th percentile male Marine. A curvature in the associated protective plates accommodates chest and abdomen size without compromising protection.
Infantry and infantry-like Marines will be the first to receive the PC Gen. III. The new vest body armor will then be fielded to supporting units. The program office expects the PC Gen III to reach Full Operational Capability (FOC) by fiscal year 2023.