Friday, May 25, 2007

Army Stands Behind Interceptor Body Armor

After a May 17 NBC News report challenged the Army's use of Interceptor body armor instead of newer Dragon Skin armor developed by Pinnacle Armor Inc., an Army official said U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan still use the best available body armor.

At a May 21 Pentagon press conference, Brig. Gen. R. Mark Brown released test results that ruled out Dragon Skin a year ago.

The Army subjected Dragon Skin armor to the same endurance tests as Interceptor body armor at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., May 16 to 19, 2006.

Of eight Dragon Skin vests tested, four failed, with 13 rounds penetrating completely on the first or second shot, General Brown said. After the first complete penetration, the vests technically failed the test, but he said the Army continued the testing to ensure fairness.

Other tests included subjecting Dragon Skin vests to extreme temperature variations, from minus 25 degrees Fahrenheit to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which would reflect the cold temperature experienced during airplane transport to the war zone and the hot Middle East climate.

Temperature tests caused the adhesive holding the Dragon Skin's protective discs together to fail, and the discs gathered at the bottom of the vest, leaving gaps in protection.

General Brown also noted that extra large Dragon Skin vests are 47.5 pounds and 1.7 to 1.9 inches thick; large size Interceptor vests, which offer equivalent coverage, weigh 28 pounds and are 1.3 inches thick.

Congress is requesting that the Government Accountability Office look into the matter further.

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