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The US Army has awarded a contract modification to BAE Systems to continue the production of lightweight torso and side body armour that protects soldiers, while reducing their carrying load.

Under the $45m contract, BAE will deliver three different ranges of armours.

The first variant is the Lightweight X Small Arms Protective Insert (XSAPI), which is a torso plate that protects against a variety of threats.

Lightweight X Side Ballistic Insert (XSBI) and Lightweight Enhanced Side Ballistic Insert (ESBI) are both side plate variants and are expected to enhance the protection afforded by the torso plates.

BAE Systems war fighter protection programmes director Robert Monks said: "This award shows the continued importance of BAE Systems to the Army’s drive to deliver the lightest weight body armour available today.

"It positions us to continue as a leading supplier of the lightest, next-generation body armour for the US Department of Defence."

"This award shows the continued importance of BAE Systems to the army’s drive to deliver the lightest weight body armour."

The new plates are at least 7% lighter than the previous generations, reducing the load on the soldier.

BAE Systems is expected to deliver more than 90,000 plates under the contract modification, with work to be carried out at the company’s facility in Phoenix, Arizona, US.

In May 2010, the US Army awarded a $10.7m contract to BAE to build more than 20,000 modular, lightweight, load-carrying equipment (MOLLE) system sets in MultiCam camouflage.

In addition, the company was recently contracted to continue production of the MK 90 propellant grains, which provide propulsion for the MK66 rocket motor, a key element of the Hydra 70 family of rockets used by the US military and several allied nations to support overseas operations.

Image: Hand armours are worn inside the fronts, backs, and sides of the outer tactical vests. Photo: courtesy of BAE Systems.