The development of Kevlar and ceramic materiel in the 1970s and 1980s made real bulletproof vests possible. The "Improved Conventional Munitions" (ICM) Vest was issued in 1975, the first one of the new composite material (Kevlar) vest adoped by the U.S. military. However, even though it was a big improvement over the Vietnam Era M-1969 Fragmentation Protective Body Armor it did not become widespread in the U.S. services.
The PASGT (Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops) Vest and PASGT Helmet were introduced in the early 1980s, both made with Kevlar. The formal name of the vest is "Body Armor, Fragmentation Protection Vest, Ground Troops" but it was usually called the "PASGT Vest" or just the "flak vest" or "flak jacket". It was part of the PASGT system that included the Kevlar helmet and other components.
The PASGT Vest is a front opening design which protects the upper torso of the body. The ballistic fill consists of 13 plies of 14 oz. water repellent treated Aramid (Kevlar 29) fabric. The inner and outer cover, shoulder pads and front closure flap of the vest are water repellent treated 8 oz. ballistic nylon cloth. The outer cover is woodland camouflage printed and the inner cover is olive green. In the 1990s, 3-color and 6-color desert camo covers were issued for the PASGT in addition to the standard woodland camo.
The vest has a 3/4 in collar, pivoting shoulder pads, 2 front pockets, 2 grenade hangers and rifle butt pad in the front shoulder area. The front and the pocket flaps all have velcro closures. The side overlaps are made flexible through the use of 1-1/2 inch (3.8 cm) wide elastic webbing.
The PASGT vest has improved ability to stop or slow down fragments, compared to the nylon vest of the Vietnam War period, made obsolete by PASGT. It reduced the number of wounds, especially serious and lethal, from exploding conventional and improved conventional munitions. When the PASGT Vest was worn in combat areas, an 18-53 percent decrease (threat dependent) in all fragmentation caused casualties was predicted and largely realized.
The PASGT vest was superior to the Vietnam era nylon vest not only in ballistic performance but also in terms of comfort and camouflage properties. The PASGT Vest provided a superior fit and wearer comfort because the PASGT vest was more flexible due to both the materials used and the vest design. The Kevlar ballistic filler in the back was made in four sections; the three upper back sections slide over each other and over the lower back section to allow for any changes in body dimensions associated with various movements. The shoulder pads with elastic webbing and snaps allowed more freedom of upper arm movement, and compatibility with the other clothing and individual equipment was increased. In addition, vinyl envelope and plastic stiffeners are eliminated through the use of water repellent treated materials, and camouflage properties are improved.
The PASGT vest could be upgraded to stop 7.62-mm rounds by teaming it with the Interim Small Arms Protective Overvest. However, the combined weight of the two systems was 25.1 pounds, considered too much by most soldiers.
The approximate cost to the Government of each vest was $350.
PASGT Flak Vest Labels and National Stock Numbers
7.5 lbs. (3.2 kg)
8.3 lbs. (3.7 kg)
9.0 lbs. (4.0 kg)
10.3 lbs. (4.6 kg)
11.0 lbs. (4.9 kg)
Extra Extra Large
Care and Use Instructions for the Kevlar PASGT Flak Jacket
The following is from TM 10-8400-203-23 which provides the care and use instructions for the PASGT vest label:
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