US Army and armor-maker embroiled in debate over body-armor safety
Army refutes claims that Pinnacle Armor's product superior to troops' armor, and plans to brief Congress on subject.
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The Associated Press writes that, in response to the NBC report, the Army "in a rare move" released the results of its Dragon Skin testing on Monday. In a press conference (transcript available on the Defense Department's website) General Brown said that the armor suffered "catastrophic failures," failing to stop 13 of 48 armor-piercing rounds.Skip to next paragraph
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"Zero failures is the correct answer," he said. "One failure is sudden death and you lose the game."
Brown added that the armor failed to endure required temperatures shifts - from minus 20 degrees to 120 above zero - which weakened the adhesive holding the discs together. And he said that the Dragon Skin's heavy weight was also a problem for soldiers who need to carry a lot of gear.
The Dragon Skin, he said, weighs 47.5 pounds, compared to the Army-issued Interceptor armor, which weighs 28 pounds.
The NBC report was also met with some skepticism on military community websites. DefenseTech, a military technology blog run by Military.com, points out that in NBC's video of the armor tests, the Dragon Skin armor is on a flat surface, which maximizes the overlap of the protective disks that make up the armor. When worn, however, the armor would be curved, reducing the disks' protection. DefenseTech also notes that the armor's excessive weight reduces its "operational suitability." A post at the military website ProfessionalSoldier.com, run by and for members of the Special Forces, also criticizes the testing in a lengthy article endorsed by the site.
Stars and Stripes, a daily paper for the US military authorized by the Defense Department, writes that Murray Neal, the founder of Dragon Skin manufacturer Pinnacle Armor, says the Army is lying about the test results.
Murray Neal said eight of the rounds that penetrated the Dragon Skin vests were specifically aimed where there were no ballistic discs.
Of the remaining shots that went through the vests, five needed to be verified by a follow-up test, but the Army failed to do so, Neal said.
As for the Army's contention that the mesh of ceramic discs falls apart after being exposed to extreme temperatures, Neal said, "That's a bold-face lie."
Army spokesman Paul Boyce said Neal has made similar accusations against the Army in the past, but, "the test results speak for themselves."
ABC News affiliate KFSN in Fresno, Calif., reports that Mr. Neal says third-party testing is needed to resolve the issue of which armor, Interceptor or Dragon Skin, is safer. "[The test] won't be conducted by the Army. It won't be conducted by me. That's the whole issue here."
Military.com reports that Brown said the Army has "gotten a flurry of interest" from Capitol Hill since the NBC report was released, and that the Army will be meeting with members of Congress this week to discuss the armor issue.