US Army bullet proof vests may be faulty

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A Pentagon report has revealed that the inserts added to five million bullet proof vests may not be up to standards due to poor testing, potentially putting at risk the lives of US soldiers.

The vests were manufactured between 2004 and 2006 by seven firms in a contract worth some US$2.5 billion, according to the Pentagon’s inspector general.
“The Army lacks assurance that 5.1 million ballistic inserts acquired through the seven contracts provide appropriate protection,” the report said.
“We determined that ballistic testing and quality assurance for Interceptor Body Armour inserts did not have proper controls to ensure that the ballistic inserts met contract requirements.
“Consequently, the Army cannot be sure that the appropriate level of protection has been achieved.”

AFP reports that, according to quality control, the inserts should be tested at an ambient temperature of around 58 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit (14 to 26 degrees C), with humidity levels of around 40-60%.

However, the report found that in 52% of the cases these conditions were not met.

This is not the first time body armour has not lived up to standards. In February last year, Lincoln Fabrics Ltd, a Canadian weaver of ballistic fabrics, and its American subsidiary, agreed to pay the United States US$4 million to settle a lawsuit against Lincoln weaving Zylon fabric used in the manufacture and sale of defective Zylon bullet-proof vests.

Lincoln manufactured Zylon fabric was used in bullet-proof vests sold by several companies, including Second Chance Body Armour Inc., First Choice Armour Inc. and Point Blank Body Armor Inc. These vests were purchased by the United States, and its allies.

The United States alleged that the Zylon in the vests lost its ballistic capability quickly, especially when exposed to heat and humidity.

The United States previously settled with six other participants in the Zylon body armour industry for over US$54 million.

Meanwhile, a Pentagon report published by the New York Times in January 2006 found that 80% of the Marines killed in the Iraq war from chest wounds would have survived if their bullet-proof vests had been more effective and had covered them more.