Flaws Found in Body Armor Tests

The Government Accountability Office has reported that the the Army deviated from established standards in testing conducted last year of ballistic vests that contain hardened ceramic plates that protect the upper bodies of soldiers from enemy bullets and shrapnel. The audit recommends pulling 33,000 ceramic plates from the Army’s inventory of nearly 2 million. While the Army disagrees with the report and notes that no U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq or Afghanistan due to failure of body armor, the Army voluntarily pulled the recommended 33,000 plates.

Testing of body armor is rigorous at the design stage. However, once the product enters full production by the government contractor, sample items are taken from each production batch and shot at on ranges to determine if the batch is up to the production standards. The greatest departure in testing procedure, as noted by the GAO, is the measurement of the amount of force a plate can withstand. The indentation left in the plate following a test fire demonstrates the amount of blunt force trauma to the soldier.

To view the full article, as reported by the Associated Press, visit: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/10/16/national/main5388988.shtml

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