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May 24, 2007

OpFor on Dragon Skin: It Sucks

They're a lot less persuaded by Lisa Myers' piece than I was.

The charge that the Dragon Skin plates come loose after being dropped, doused in diesel fuel (something that happens frequently, apparently) or exposed to Iraqi summer heat seems to be one of the biggest knocks on the armor system.

Is it true? I don't know. The DoD and OpFor's source says it is.

Also they complain that while Dragon Skin performs well in direct fire tests, it performs much less well against shots coming in from an angle or from the side. The scales are good at distributing the impact of straight-on shots, but not so good when a bullet comes in at an angle and basically slips between discs. (Well, maybe not literally slips between them, but perpendicular shots greatly reduce the armor's effectiveness -- the mutual reinforcement/impact distribution feature of the multple overlapping scales is largely defeated when a bullet fails to strike the plates in the right way.)

Definitely worth reading.

While I support the media investigating whether our troops have the best weapons and armor available, I do now have to seriously question: Why did Lisa Myers not subject the armor to the drop/heat/glue-eating tests the army requires, instead only focusing on pure ballistic tests?

And, I have to admit, the perpendicular shot thing did not occur to me at all. But then, I make no claims of expertise in this area. Lisa Myers, on the other hand, did make such a claim of expertise, in the form of the two experts tagging along with her, plus the staff at the "world renown" ballistics lab in Germany where she conducted her test.

Did not a single one of them know or mention that a piece of armor has to be tested by shots from multiple angles, and that dead-bang balls-on straight shots are not the only shots one ought to conduct in a test?

Now that it's pointed out to me, it seems glaringly obvious -- you just don't test a tank's survivability by pounding on its most well-armored part; you also test its lesser-armored areas. How could two experts in body armor and the "world renowned" German ballistic laboratory staff failed to suggest testing the armor against angled shots?

It's borderline inconceivable.

This seems all seems a lot shoddier to me now, and more of a deliberately rigged "test." Not entirely unlike that old Primetime Live rigged truck-explosion "test."

Whether or not Dragon Skin is superior to, or even the equal of, the Interceptor armor, I don't know. But I do know that Lisa Myers' tests seem deliberately rigged to play to Dragon Skin's strengths and avoid its weaknesses.

It's possible the DoD is doing the same thing, of course -- maybe for some reason it has a hard-on for Interceptor armor and so carefully crafts tests it knows the Interceptor will pass and the Dragon Skin armor will fail. Maybe. Who knows.

But there's no evidence of that, while there does seem to be evidence that Lisa Myers, whether out of sheer ignorance or willful collusion, "chery-picked" and "twisted" her own "intelligence" as to the comparative capabilities of both amor types.

I don't know a damn thing about armor, but I know something about the media's incompetence and wilfull deceptiveness. And I know that Myers' test wasn't only unfair and untrustworthy, but seems almost deliberately designed to be precisely that.

Exit question, as Allah says: If the DoD was about to actually buy billions of dollars worth of Dragon Skin armor, do you think Lisa Myers would have trumpeted its effectiveness by putting it through tests that played to its strengths and avoided its weaknesses? Or do you imagine she would have done exactly the opposite?


Punk'd by NBC: What pisses me off is I made a conscious effort to give Lisa Myers the benefit of the doubt. I tried not to go into knee-jerk "the media is lying because they hate Bush and want to undermine the military" mode.

I gave the report a fair viewing. I stated it was proper and even helpful for the troops for the media to look into how our troops are being armed and armored. I called Myers' piece "persuasive."

And guess what? They lied to me again. I gave them an inch of credulity and they paved over me with a highway mile of deceit.

Is Dragon Skin armor good? Again, I don't know.

But I can evaluate the media's performance here. As usual: malfeasant.

If Lisa Myers were a Pentagon procurement officer, they'd be bringing charges against her for cooking tests to favor one system over another simply to advance her own career.


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posted by Ace at 12:26 PM

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