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Body Armor/Load Carriage System

The SPEAR Body Armor/Load Carriage System (BALCS) consists of body armor, an equipment load carrying subsystem, and a backpack subsystem.


The BALCS maximizes ballistic protection, buoyancy compensation, and load carrying capacity, while minimizing the burdens of weight, bulk and heat stress.

Body Armor

Provides protection against fragmentation, handgun, and rifle threats. The armor system contains a soft armor vest; front and back interchangeable upgrade plates, and modular neck and groin protection. The neutrally buoyant soft vest is available in four sizes (S-XL); plates are sized with the vest. Approximate weight of a Medium vest is 6.5 lbs.; the Medium plates are approximately 6 lbs. each.

Equipment Load Carrying Subsystem (ELCS)

The modular pocketing and harness system allows mission tailoring of load and system configuration. The ELCS is compatible with the SPEAR Body Armor and Backpack Subsystem, and provides optimum compatibility with individual equipment and weapons.

Backpack Subsystem

The modified commercial Backpack Subsystem (UM21) contains a backpack, patrol pack, and butt pack. The backpacks state-of-the-art internal frame affords a stable platform sufficient to carry 120 lbs. effectively. The backpack transfers load efficiently from the shoulders to the waist and provides adjustments to fit the 5th - 95th percentile male SOF operator. The butt pack attaches to ELCS or the backpack; the patrol pack attaches to the backpack, and is compatible with the other SPEAR BALCS components.


  • BALCS factsheet @NSRDEC [2001]
  • UM21 @NDIA conference [2001]
  • SPEAR BALCS Overview APBI [2007]
  • SOF Unique Breakout APBI [2011]