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Coming Soon: Lighter Body Armor for Soldiers

New fabrics, lighter ceramic plates and flexible thermoplastic sheets are some of the solutions that promise to lower the weight of body armor.

Lighter body armor has been a long-time pursuit, as Army leaders for years have been concerned about the heavy load that soldiers carry in combat. Reducing that burden could pay big dividends in terms of force readiness and well being, defense officials said.

"The soldier is what we consider our primary weapon," said Katrina McFarland, acting assistant secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics. "We need to unburden our soldier … we want to be able to understand how to create speed, and lessen our logistics burden and our maintenance burden."

Several companies displayed the latest body armor solutions this week at the Association of the U.S. Army annual expo in Washington, D.C.

Teijin, a Netherlands-based company, is offering lighter body plates and helmets made out of its patented Twaron fiber and clear, tape-like Endumax technologies. "The tape is laid in layers and glued together … and shaped into helmets and body plates," said Michel Dupont, Endumax general manager at Teijin. It also makes protective panels for vehicles, he said.

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