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SOF Spear ELCS Review

All of the ELCS components placed in the carrying/storage bag.

Special Operations Forces Equipment Advanced Requirements (SPEAR) is the United States Special Operations Command's (USSOCOM) modernization effort for the joint Special Operations Forces. SPEAR will focus on four areas of improvement in personal equipment from 1996-2005, including body armor and load carriage. SPEAR's Body Armor/Load Carriage System (BALCS) consists of body armor, an equipment load carrying subsystem, and a backpack subsystem.

This article covers all the specifications of the Equipment Load Carrying System (ELCS) manufactured by Safariland for the US Armed Forces. This modular load bearing system it is designed to support the needs of troops conducting special operations and is currently used by the USA, the USN (Navy Option Kit) and the USAF Special Forces.

ELCS is a part of the Special Operations Forces Personal Equipment Advanced Requirements (SPEAR) program. Other gear parts from which SPEAR is consisted of is the Gregory UM21 Backpack Subsystem, the Safariland SPEAR vest and the Ceradyne ceramic body armor plates. All of the above are part of the Body Armor/Load Carriage System (BALCS). An other famous part of gear developed under the SPEAR program label is the Modular/Integrated Communications Helmet (MICH).

The BALCS components are:
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)

Backpack Subsystem

Gregory UM21 Patrol Pack in Woodland Camo

The modified commercial Backpack Subsystem contains a backpack, patrol pack, and butt pack. The backpack's state-of-the-art internal frame affords a stable platform sufficient to carry 120 pounds effectively. The backpack transfers load efficiently from the shoulders to the waist and provide 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. The one size subsystem weighs 17 pounds.

The SPEAR Equipment Load Carrying System (ELCS) is divided into two basic categories of components, as follows:

a. Platform Components - Those items which pouches and accessories attach to (for example, panel Set, Belt assembly or H - Harness Assembly), or which support the items which accept pouches (for example, Shoulder pad Assembly).

b. Pouches / Accessories - Those items which are designed to attach to platform components and carry a specific item or items.

The Flotation Elements are consisted of Ethafoam or Styrofoam
and are vested by Rip Stop fabric.
Belt Assembly,
Shoulder Pad Assembly,
H - Harness Panel Set

(1 Left, 1 Right)
Load Bearing Panel Set

(1 Left, 1 Right)

The SPEAR ELCS Kit contains the following:

The Navy Option Kit, in addition to the above, contains the following:

Vest Panel (Left & Right) 1 Set.
H Harness Assembly 1 Set.
Shoulder Pad Assembly 1 Set.
Belt With Buckle 1ea.
Pouch, M-4 Ammo (3 Mag, 30rd) w/Frag & Multi Purpose Grenade, Right 1ea.
Pouch, M-4 Ammo (3 Mag, 30rd) w/Frag & Multi Purpose Grenade, Left 1ea.
Cover Canteen 1 Quart 2ea.
Pouch General Purpose Large 2ea.
ALICE Adapter 2ea.
Pouch, M-4 Ammo (2 Mag, 30rd) 3ea.
Pouch, M-4 Ammo (1 Mag, 30rd) 3ea.
Pouch, M-60/SAW, 100 Rd 2ea.
Pouch General Purpose Small/ First aid/Compass 2ea.
Cover Canteen, 2 Quart 2ea.
Flotation Element Set (1Left, 1Right, 1Rear) 1 Set.
Care and Use Manual 1ea.
Storage Organization Device 1ea.

1. Pouch, M14 Ammo (3 Mag, 20 rd) 2ea.
2. Pouch, MP5 Ammo (3 Mag, 30 rd) 2ea.
3. Pouch, M - 60/SAW, (100 rd) 2ea.

Optional Pouches, not assigned to kits, are available as follows:

1. Pouch, Grenade, Multipurpose.
2. Pouch, M - 4 Ammo (3 Mag, 30 rd) w/Frag Grenade.
3. Pouch, Shotgun Ammo (5rd).
4. Pouch, Smoke Grenade.
5. Pouch, M - 249, (200rd).
6. Pouch, 9mm, Single Mag.
7. Pouch, Medical.
8. Pouch, Pouch, M-4 Ammo (3 Mag, 30 rd) w/Frag Grenade & Srobe Light.

The Flotation Elements (4 in number) are placed inside the Vest Panel (Left & Right) as well as the Shoulder Pad Assembly. The Flotation Pads are inserted via clefts and secured by zippers and internal Velcro straps.

The design of the SPEAR ELCS is such to allow mission tailoring of not only the equipment to be carried but also the platform on which it is carried. This is accomplished by providing maximum modularity in both the pouch attachment method and also the variety of available configurations of the platform components.

The platform components allow the system to be configured in a traditional harness system, with equipment being carried on the belt, or configured in the style of load bearing vest, or in a combination of both. The platform components feature easy adjustments at the shoulder (height), waist (girth) and chest (girth) and are a single size system.

Load Bearing Vest configuration. On the Vest Panels are attached two (2) Pouches, M-4 Ammo (2 Mag, 30rd) and 4 Pouches, M-4 Ammo (1 Mag, 30rd). Harness System configuration. On the harness panels are attached two (2) Pouches for 100 7,62mm round belts in an M-60/SAW gunner configuration.
Mixed Load Bearing Vest Panel and H-Harness configuration with M-4 and 7,62 round pouches. Side view of the Load Bearing Vest configuration. A common configuration of the rear side of ELCS. Here can be seen attached two (2) 2 Quart Canteen Covers and one (1) Large General Purpose Pouch. If more space is required, the UM21 butt pack can be attached.

Three M-4 mag pouches are attached on the PALS of the Load Bearing Vest Panels. The individual pouch and accessory components are attached to the platform components utilizing the Pouch Attachment Ladder System (PALS). This system attaches items through the 'inner - weaving' of webbing between the item to be attached and the platform to which it is being attached. This provides a strong, stable attachment system to ensure the attached item remains securely in place.
Close up to the Pouch Attachment Ladder System (PALS)
Campobase's joke... ship it in the wrong box Campobase's joke... ship it in the wrong box Provision has also been made within the system to allow further customizing by providing ALICE (All Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment) Adapter components. These items act as an interface piece allowing items with ALICE attachment or select or select commercial attachment systems to be securely carried on the SPEAR ELCS.
An ALICE Adapter attached on the belt section of the Vest Panel. An ALICE system three M-16/M-4 mag pouch attached on the Vest Panel utilizing the ELCS ALICE Adapter.
Campobase's joke... ship it in the wrong box Campobase's joke... ship it in the wrong box A very peculiar pouch of the ELCS system is the M-4 Ammo Pouch, (3 Mag, 30rd) w/Frag & Multi Purpose Grenade. In this pouch the M-4 mags are stacked side by side and not over - under like the standard M - 4 one or two mag pouches.
An ALICE Adapter attached on the belt section of the Vest Panel.
Campobase's joke... ship it in the wrong box
In the end all ELCS components can be organized, transported and stored in the special bag which closes with zippers on it's perimeter. An ALICE system three M-16/M-4 mag pouch attached on the Vest Panel utilizing the ELCS ALICE Adapter.

The SPEAR ELCS is available in three types as follows:

a. Type I - Woodland Camouflage
b. Type II - Day Desert Camouflage (Three Colour Desert)
c. Type III - Black

The system described and used for this review is manufactured by Safariland. Was gathered via several e-auctions and cost around 350 USD. This system retails for 1,600.00 USD (!!??!?!) but several airsoft replicas can be found in the market if someone doesn't want to go via the e-auction process.

There was no experience with an airsoft replica so no comparisons could be made in this review. G&P produces several SPEAR items like the ELCS and the SPEAR vest both in woodland and in three colour desert camo. V. Warrior is also producing an ELCS in three colour desert camo. Finally Olka Tough Gear is producing a replica of the SPEAR vest in TCD.


This review was brought to you by GGRAMM

March 25, 2007. Athens, Greece.


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