The US Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) has awarded a contract to BAE Systems for the supply of its Enhanced Small Arms Protective Insert (ESAPI) plates to help protect soldiers while conducting combat operations.
The $75m order is part of a broader three-year contract received from the DLA Troop Support. Over the next three years, the total value of the contract orders is expected to reach approximately $236m.
Don Dutton, BAE Systems Support Solutions Protection Systems vice president and general manager, said the ESAPI plates help save lives on the battlefield by protecting against multiple hits from small arms threats.
Designed to replace the Small Arms Protective Insert (SAPI), the ESAPI provides protection against greater velocity threats such as .30-06 M2 armour-piercing rounds with a steel or tungsten penetrator.
When placed in soft armour vests, such as the Outer Tactical Vest (OTV) pocket of the multiple threat / interceptor body armour (IBA), the plates provide ballistic protection from specific 5.56mm and 7.62mm ball and AP rounds.
The boron carbide plates are also used in the Modular Tactical Vest, in addition to commercially available plate carriers, and are jointly produced by BAE Systems, Ceradyne and ArmorWorks Enterprises.
Manufacturing work under the contract will be carried out at the company's Arizona facility and deliveries are expected to commence in September 2012 and continue until August 2013.
The company has manufactured more than 1.2 million hard armour inserts, including ESAPI and other SAPI derivatives, since 1998 under various US Department of Defense (DoD) contracts.
The US Army has also called for the development of a next generation plate, to counter even greater velocity threats than the ESAPI plates.
Image: The ESAPI plate is designed to protect soldiers against ballistic threats. Photo courtesy of: BAE Systems.