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May 24, 2007

Pinnacle's Rebuttal: Our Armor's Awesome, Interceptor Armor Is A Comprehensive Immigration Bill

In fairness -- because, really, I don't know a damn thing about body armor -- I'll link this point by point rebuttal of an unoffical Army paper denigrating the Dragon Skin system.

I won't quote much. Just enough to be kinda fair. (Really, I didn't set out to make this Dragon Skin armor day.)

Summary: Pinnacle says the Army seemed intent on deviating from accepted testing principles in order to fail the system, and fired on places not even covered by the actual scale armor to claim additional failures, and that the "scales falling out due to high heat" claim is overblown, based upon a single instance of product failure due to a manufacturing error rather than a basic design flaw.

Personally, I'd like to see more tests. Just not conducted by Lisa Myers.

As far as bias in the testing proces, this online comment by the man in charge of testing the armor for the Army does seem a tad... hot:

On June 6th, 2006 in comments posted on an online discussion forum, Karl Masters, director of engineering for Program Manager - Soldier Equipment, said he recently supervised the retest and commented on it. "I was recently tasked by the army to conduct the test of the 30 Dragon Skin SOV-3000 level IV body armor purchased for T&E [tests and evaluation]," Masters wrote. "My day job is acting product manager for Interceptor Body Armor. I'm under a gag order until the test results make it up the chain. I will, however, offer an enlightened and informed recommendation to anyone considering purchasing an SOV-3000 Dragon Skin - don't. I do not recommend this design for use in an AOR with a 7.62x54R AP threat and an ambient temperature that could range to 120F. I do, however, highly recommend this system for use by insurgents..."

If Dragon Skin armor is really awful, I suppose that comment might be warranted. If it's not awful, but simply not, all things considered, superior to Interceptor armor, then that comment seems out-of-line in its hostility. Maybe suggesting bias. I don't know.

Clarification/Correction: Having read that Masters worked for "Interceptor Armor," I wrongly concluded that meant he worked for the armor's manufacturor.

He doesn't. He works for the Army. "Interceptor Armor" is just what the Army calls its current armor design -- it's not a brand name, it's an Army designation.

Thanks to commenters for correcting me on that. I apologize for the error.

Anyway, some charges and rebuttals follow. No more about body armor for me. I'm swearing this subject off like I swore off Gleen Grenwald.

[Army paper:] The Army has test data that conclusively demonstrates that Dragon Skin does not meet the Army requirement for Soldier Body Armor protection.

[Pinnacle rebuttal:] This Army claim is false. The Army has test data, including ballistic data it has classified “SECRET,” and non-classified ballistic data that proves Dragon Skin is in fact superior in every way to Interceptor. The data that is non-classified is available at Pinnacle Armor for review by anyone who wishes to see it....

[Pinnacle charge against Army, alleging bias:] ...

From the first test round fired it was evident the Army had another agenda, as they deviated from the edge distance protocol in a vain attempt to fail the system. It continued until the last medium body armor unit was shot 12 times with M2AP 7.62x63mm armor piercing ammunition without failure...

[Army charge:] Pinnacle SOV 3000 level IV Dragon Skin vests suffered 13 first or second shot complete penetrations, failing 4 of 8 initial subtests when tested with ESAPI threat baseline Armor Piercing (AP) ammunition.

[Pinnacle rebuttal:] The Dragon Skin® body armor system never failed a valid FAT first shot penetration. The only first shot penetration was the very first round fired of the entire test on the first day, which was .50” inches from the edge. The ESAPI FAT protocol calls for a minimum of .75” to 1.25” distance from the edge as the closest dimension to any edge. Anything closer is considered an invalid shot. That shot was determined by the test director Karl Masters as an invalid shot subsequent to his inspection. (This is one of the 8 penetrations claimed.)

Dr. James Zheng from NATICK laboratories was conducting all of the shots against the Dragon Skin® body armor system. Both he and Karl Masters subsequent to that went into a two hour meeting to try to establish an agreement of what defined a “hard edge” of the armor system. When the testing resumed there were a total of 4 second shot complete penetrations that were deemed to fall within the ESAPI Q/A retest protocol and therefore would not be considered failures. There was never any retesting of those 4 shots as is required by the Army's own FAT Q/A protocol. (These four shots, plus the one in the preceding paragraph, make a total of 5 shots of the claimed 8 "penetrations now rebutted.)

The other so-called 8 failures are directly attributed to James Zheng directing shots into areas of the vest where there was not any Dragon Skin® rifle defeating composite armor! These 8 shots were into the soft aramid textile part of the vest (commonly called Kevlar), which is -- again -- specified to protect against only handgun rounds and small, low-velocity fragments/shrapnel....

[Army charge:] A physical configuration inspection of the... Dragon Skin system... [shows the armor] being 55.65% heavier for the same area coverage.

[In a passage thick with math, Pinnacle responds, essentially, that the Army is miscalculating the weight of Dragon Skin compared to its area of coverage, and that a proper comparison shows it's lighter than Interceptor armor in this respect (i.e., lighter in the sense of the ratio of actual weight to square footage of body covered).]

[Army charge:] Pinnacle SOV 3000 level IV Dragon Skin suffered catastrophic failure of the ceramic disc containment grid adhesive at -600°F, 1200°F and 1600°F.

[Pinnacle rebuttal: Let me just digest it. They say that the armor did not fail in four of the tests, and only lost adhesion in a single row of plates when the armor was subject to 160 degrees F for six hours. They then say this was due to a manufacturing error and furthermore has been corrected.]

digg this
posted by Ace at 02:34 PM

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