The Marine Corps is looking for a new lightweight modular armor plate with a contract award planned for July 2019.

Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) released a request for proposals (RFP) last Thursday as it looks to procure up to 680,000 lightweight plates to begin fielding in fiscal year 2020.180609-M-UB217-091

Nick Pierce, Individual Armor team lead for MCSC’s Program Manager – Infantry Combat Equipment (PM ICE), said the new plates will be significantly lighter than the current Enhanced Small Arms Protective Insert (ESAPI) plates, but both will be be fielded concurrently.

“We expect the plates to be at least 38 percent lighter than the ESAPI, which will significantly increase the mobility of Marines on the battlefield,” Pierce said in a statement.

Following an August request for information, Marine Corps officials held an industry day for the new plates and met with 12 companies to discuss the viability of producing a minimum of 40,000 units within a year of the first article test approval.

Officials are also looking for a capability that is able to be integrated with the Plate Carrier Gen III, set to start fielding next year.

PM ICE officials have also conducted analysis on over 200 commercial plate designs from 38 companies, with a goal of understanding the potential to increase Marines’ mobility by eight percent.

“This along with other recent initiatives such as the Plate Carrier Gen III are part of a holistic effort to modernize the personal protective equipment set to give Marines better, lighter, more effective gear,” Pierce said.

Responses to the RFP are due by March 2019.