The ILBE Improved Load Bearing Equipment is a load carrying system designed to provide a durable and lightweight means for deployed U.S. Marines to transport individual combat clothing and equipment. It is intended to replace the MOLLE Modular Lightweight Load Carrying Equipment.
Marine from First Marine Logistics Group (1st MLG), Brigade Service Support Group-1 (BSSG-1) loads his Improved Load Bearing Equipment pack (ILBE pack) into a truck at Camp Pendleton, CA, 15 February 2006 as the unit deploys to Al Taqaddum, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
ILBE developed from U.S. Marine Corps dissatisfaction with the MOLLE Modular Lightweight Load Carrying Equipment. Evolutionary changes in MOLLE were not sufficient to meet Marines' requirements, so in 2003 the USMC investigated two new pack designs to upgrade the MOLLE in response to complaints about the original version. The selected designs were provided by commercial vendors Bianchi (Gregory) and Propper International (Arc'teryx).
The two new packs that were tested featured internal frames and were somewhat lighter with a much simpler design than the Marines' MOLLE pack. Arc'teryx weighed eight pounds four ounces and carried 5,000 cubic inches while the Gregory weighed nine pounds 10 ounces and carried 4,520 cubic inches. Field User Evaluation was conducted January through June 2003 when nine hundred systems from each vendor were tested across Marine units. Biomechanical testing was conducted at U.S. Army Soldier Systems at Natick, MA who also compared the performance of the ILBE candidates to the MOLLE system.
Improved Load Bearing Equipment (ILBE) Selected and Approved
Improved Load Bearing Equipment (ILBE) has many pouches and pockets plus the detachable Assault Pack.
On 15 January 2004 the ILBE design was approved and scheduled for procurement as a direct replacement for the MOLLE Modular Lightweight Load Carrying Equipment. The selected design was a modified Arc'teryx Bora 95 pack with a hydration system produced by Source Vagabond. Specifications are:
4500 cu in. Main Rucksack
1500 cu in. Assault Pack
100 oz Hydration System
The family of ILBE packs includes:
Corpsman Assault Pack (CAP)
Assault Load Carrier (ALC) Pouch System
ILBE systems were produced and delivered to the USMC by Propper International at a cost of about $600 each. During fielding, MOLLE and even the aging ALICE, or All-purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment, remained in service as the ILBE was phased in. By March 2006, over 96,000 ILBE had been fielded. Ultimately 238,000 ILBE packs suppliled active duty Marines plus additional packs for reservists.
During the development of the ILBE, the Marine Corps defined three load types that the equipment would be designed to accomodate. These are similar to equivalent definitions in US Army FM 21-18 (Foot Marches).
The assault load is the load needed during the actual conduct of the assault. It will include minimal equipment beyond water and ammunition. From the human factors perspective, the maximum assault load weight will be that weight at which an average infantry Marine will be able to conduct combat operations indefinitely with minimal degradation in combat effectiveness.
Approach March Load
The approach march load is defined as that load necessary for the prosecution of combat operations for extended periods with access to daily re-supply. The approach march load is intended to provide the individual infantry Marine with the necessities of existence for an extended period of combat. From the perspective of human factors, the maximum weight of the approach march load will be such that the average infantry Marine will able to conduct a 20-mile hike during a time frame of eight hours with the reasonable expectation of maintaining 90% combat effectiveness.
The existence load is defined as that load taken from the point of origin into the assembly area. The existence load, for planning purposes, will be intended to support the individual from their pack when immediate re-supply is impossible. From the perspective of human factors, the maximum weight of the existence load will be such that the average infantry Marine will be able to conduct limited movement within the confines of Naval shipping, embark and debark aircraft or amphibious craft, and limited marching from the landing zone into a secured area.
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