ECBA/Osprey Small Armour Plates

This week’s Osprey item is a little different in that although it was widely used with the osprey system it was never designed for it. The Osprey Mk IV armour can be up-scaled by fitting a pair of cummerbunds, each of which holds a plate of ceramic armour:CaptureIt is this armour plate we are considering this week. The plate was first developed for use with the enhanced combat body armour, ECBA. The first versions of the plates had square corners, but the example here is the Mk 2 plate where the corners have been rounded off to make it slightly easier to slot into the pockets on a set of armour:imageThe material inside the plates is sintered alumina and each plate weighs 1.16kg, making them surprisingly heavy for their size. The plates are slightly dished as they were originally designed to fit over the chest:imageIn the ECBA they are fitted to the pockets on the front:imageAnd rear of the vest:imageECBA was used at the start of Operation Telic, however ECBA was not initially available in sufficient quantities so some men had to make do with the older CBA without the armoured plates. After a number of high profile deaths an urgent operational requirement was put in to secure more of the armour plates to allow ECBA to be issued to all troops in theatre. With armour plates it is essential to be able to track their manufacture and history as a defective batch could have fatal consequences for its wearer. The front of the plate has space for contract numbers to be written and is printed with the NSN number and instructions as to which way round the plate should be fitted to the vest:imageThese plates were considered too valuable to discard when ECBA was replaced with Osprey so they were retained and used to provide the supplemental armour for the flanks on the new system. As such these plates are much harder to find on the collectors market than the soft armour, with the plates being kept in British Army inventory in large numbers. So far I just have the one plate, so I will be looking out for a second as regardless of whether they are worn in the ECBA or in the Osprey cummerbund a pair is required.

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