Up to $160M for Enhanced Interceptor Vest Protection
Despite some past issues with the Interceptor vests, they are overall highly valued by soldiers in the field and ESAPI is an additional improvement. Indeed, the ESAPI ceramic plates are part of a sweeping upgrade of U.S. military body armor…
In the 1991 Gulf War, ceramic armor plate inserts were used only by Special Forces. Thanks to a major upgrade effort completed in early 2004, they are now standard issue.
ESAPI introduces a thicker ceramic plate that provides superior protection against armor piercing bullets. As Military.com reports, several factors went into the ESAPI decision. Maj. Gen. William D. Catto, head of the Marine Corps Systems Command, said he wasn’t happy about the year-long delay. A shortage of the raw material that is needed to strengthen the plates was one issue, and so was concerns about the 18 pound weight of the new armor (about 1 pound heavier) and its effects on overall combat performance in Iraq’s 100+ degree heat. Previous military studies had highlighted body armor weight and bulk as an issue, but in the end protective performance apparently won out.
The U.S. military’s plan is to eventually replace most of their 2MM-2.5MM SAPI plates with ESAPI. At approximately $600 per plate, ESAPI costs 50% more that the previous SAPI plate. Military sources note that the current replacement cycle is expected to take several more months to complete, and will probably cost about $160 million.
Among other firms, ESAPI plates are also produced by Ceradyne. See Pershing LLC’s April 2005 analysis of Ceradyne and of this market segment in general.
These contracts have included:
Armor Holdings subsidiary Simula Aerospace and Defense Group Inc. in Phoenix AZ won a $12.6 million firm-fixed-price delivery order against a previously awarded contract (M67854-04-D-3117) for Enhanced Small Arms Protective Inserts (ESAPI) for the front and back of the Interceptor Outer Tactical Vest. Work on this contract will be performed by Simula in Phoenix, AZ and is expected to be complete in December 2005. The initial contract was competitively awarded on Aug. 26, 2004; a total of nine proposals were received.
ArmorWorks Inc. in Tempe AZ received a $12.4 million firm-fixed-price delivery order against a previously awarded contract (M67854-04-D-3005) for Enhanced Small Arms Protective Inserts (ESAPI). Work will be performed in Tempe, AZ and is expected to be completed January 2006. The initial contract was competitively awarded with three offers received in response to this small business set-aside. The Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, VA issued the contract.