Feb. 22 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army plans to begin testing a lighter-weight body armor vests between April and June, and test the full protection system by this fall.
The body armor, which includes hard plates designed to stop rifle rounds, are known as the Vital Torso Protection system, according to a Defense Department test and evaluation report obtained by Military.com and Army Times.
The system is composed of the items for torso and extremity, vital torso, head and eye protection. The latter includes transitioning lens for sunglasses.
The Army has been working with manufacturers to reduce the weight of body armor plates by as much as 30 percent, according to Brig. Gen. Anthony Potts, who commands Program Executive Office Soldier.
All plates fit into the new vest, which weighs about 5 pounds lighter than the older one. The fully equipped Improved Outer Tactical Vest, including soft armor panel inserts, four ballistic plate inserts, collar and groin protectors, and weighs 30 pounds
The Army plans to prioritize the equipment with deploying units, Potts said.
Soldiers with the 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade received the newest helmet, the Integrated Head Protection System, last year.
The medium-sized helmet weighs about 3 pounds but adds 15 percent more protection than the current system that weighs 5 pounds. This gives rifle-level protection,compared with only handgun safety in early equipment.