Letter From Proud Marine Father To Congressional Rep's RE: Dragon Skin

Editor’s Note: We frequently get questions from readers, “What can I do to help get our kids the best-available [fill in the blank].” Well, here’s what one reader, and proud father of a US Marine, did on his own initiative. Below is an excerpt of his letter.  I think it’s worth sharing. s/f, Rog

An article “11 U.S. Troops Die Inside Iraq” in the October 19 newspaper prompts me to write you. The article goes on “So far, 70 American troops have been killed in Iraq this month. If the death toll continues at this rate, the monthly tally would be the highest since November 2004.”

Many have died due to IED’s and small arms fire. Recent tests have indicated there is a superior body armor (Dragon Skin from Pinnacle Armor) available which not only is effective against small arms fire, but also shrapnel from IED’s. (Note: Dragon Skin is used by President Bush’s Secret Service detail.) It is important that our troops get the best commercially available body armor!

An impressive 6-minute video from “Test Lab” on the History Cable Channel reveals two important tests on this body armor and beyond these is another recently conducted at the Stanford University Medical Center which showed Dragon Skin to have excellent bullet stopping performance and weigh 50% less than conventional body armor.

A January 7, 2006 article in the New York Times covered a “Pentagon Study Links Fatalities to Body Armor.” That study found that as many as 80 percent of the marines who have been killed in Iraq from wounds to the upper body could have survived if they had extra body armor.

I am sure you are aware of much of the controversy concerning body armor since this report was issued. Two testimonies which I’d like to discuss are as follows:

Maj. Gen. Stephen Speakes, director of the Force Development Office, said on June 15 before the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee – “The Army’s number one concern is the protection of the Soldier. [snip] Interceptor Body Armor (IBA) remains a centerpiece program for the Army,” “Our IBA is the best military body armor in the world. [snip] We are convinced that our Soldiers are wearing the best possible equipment right now. Commanders in the Theater of operations have the means to give their Soldiers the highest levels of protection known to the Army today.”

At the same hearing, Maj. Gen. William Catto, commanding general of the Marine Corps Systems Command, testified: “Today, there is no commercial product more capable than the equipment being issued to our Marines by the Corps.”

I and others contend that the commercially available Dragon Skin body armor is more advanced and provides much better protection than the Interceptor Body Armor currently issued to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Based on these facts, I strongly recommend:

1) Rescind the Safety Of Use Message (SOUM) 06-017 “Discontinue Use of Unauthorized Body Armor, Dragon Skin

2) Allow soldiers to purchase/and use Dragon Skin and provide a financial reimbursement for that purchase (up to $1,000 or an appropriate amount)

3) Provide for accelerated procurement and distribution of Dragon Skin body armor to troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Thank you for taking the time to read and take action on this important topic!

Very truly yours,

Jeffrey Mathews, PE

“Proud, but Concerned Father of a U.S. Marine”

Dragon Skin Passes Another, Non-DOD, Level III Test


Dragon Skin Passes Another, Non-DOD, Level III Test In Direct Comparison With Armored Mobility Incorporated (AMI) Level III Plate Armor

By Roger Charles

Editor, DefenseWatch

CORRECTED VERSION — Editor’s Note: This Editor mistakenly implied that the armor plate described in the following article was a military issued ballistic plate used with the Interceptor Body Armor system. The AMI Level III plate tested is NOT a U.S. military issued item, but it is representative of the generic approach which employs rigid ballistic plates.

Well, patient readers of DefenseWatch now have some more credible, empirical data to consider as they weigh the question, are our troops being provided the best available body armor?

Following Pinnacle Armor’s Dragon Skin having passed the recent NIJ tests in Wichita, Kansas (view article), we have this latest news, from an impartial and technically knowledgeable source, about Dragon Skin’s successfully passing another Level III test!!

This latest test was conducted by, and the results reported by, Dr. Gary K. Roberts, LCDR, USNR, Stanford University Medical Center, Palo Alto, CA.

Here’s the essential information from Dr. Roberts’ posting, and a link to one of the sites where his test report, including some very interesting graphics, is posted.

Read it, and please note that for the same level and area of ballistic protection, wearing the flexible Dragon Skin is three pounds less than the AMI equivalent. That’s 50% more weight with the rigid AMI plate carried by a troop to get only the equivalent protection!! (Not to mention the other inherent advantages in a flexible body armor.)

Pinnacle Dragon Skin SOV-2000 level III armor was tested this week for an LE agency, along with stand-alone Armored Mobility Incorporated level III plate armor used as a control and for comparison. Both types of armor were conditioned for 12 hours at 170 degrees F, then moved to ambient air for approximately 90 min prior to being shot. The problems associated with the use of inelastic clay backing material have been well documented; as such, the armor was secured to a life-size curvilinear torso replica made of Perma-Gel. Each armor system was shot a minimum of 20 times with five shots of each ammunition type fired against each armor system–one 90 degree perpendicular shot, two shots at 60 degrees obliquity, and two shots at 30 degrees obliquity, using each of the following loads fired at a distance of 10 feet:

— 5.56 mm 40 gr LeMas Urban Warfare (using a moly coated Nosler Ballistic Tip bullet) with a 3718 f/s average velocity.

— 5.56 mm M855 62 gr FMJ with a 3054 f/s average velocity.

— 7.62×39 mm M43 123 gr steel-core FMJ with a 2307 f/s average velocity.

— .30-06 M2 150 gr FMJ with a 2736 f/s average velocity.

All of the above ammo was successfully stopped by both armor systems in this testing, with no armor failures or penetrations, even after receiving multiple hits. [Emphasis in the original.]

Note that since both of these armor systems are level III, they are not rated to stop true AP rifle ammunition.

AMI level III plates are fabricated using an outer 3 mm MARS steel layer bonded to a compressed Dyneema backing, with a linex coating for spall reduction, resulting in a total plate thickness of approximately 1”. AMI level III 12” x 14.5” plates weigh about 10 lbs and 10” x 12” plates are about 9 lbs.

Pinnacle SOV-2000 level III armor is made of overlapping approximately 0.25” x 2” ceramic discs encased in a fabric cover. In evaluating the Dragon Skin system, it is important to note that while the external measurements of the Dragon Skin panel are 11.5” x 13.5”, the area of level III coverage provided by the encased ceramic discs is 10” x 12”; the fabric edges are NOT intended to provide ballistic protection. Weight of the Pinnacle SOV-2000 Dragon Skin armor providing 10 x 12 inches of level III protection was approximately 6 lbs.

Both armor systems clearly met and exceeded the NIJ level III requirements and offered true multi-hit protection from the class of rifle projectiles they are rated to stop. [Emphasis in the original.]

Editor’s Comment: I believe this is the first publicized, side-by-side comparison of Pinnacle Armor’s Dragon Skin flexible body armor against the rigid plate protection approach, as used by the Interceptor Body Armor system. (The AMI plate is NOT a U.S. military issued item). And, please, note that this test, like the NIJ test, was conducted outside the DOD acquisition process. So, now, the ball is back in the court of the Army, Marine Corps and congressional proponents of the Interceptor system. Let’s see what the response is from James Zhang, Steve Pinter, and Karl Masters and their co-conspirators. These three are principal cogs of the corrupt, dysfunctional acquisition process that continue to tell the parents of America’s Grunts that our stout-hearted lads and lasses are being issued the “best-available” body armor, in the face of increasingly (and increasingly credible) evidence that such claims are just more E-ring spin. (Known in other, more traditional circles as bald-faced lies.) — Stay tuned. More revelations are should be soon forthcoming that will provide even more definitive data that young Americans are dying while wearing second-rate body armor, when better is available.

SFTT Co-Chair Roger Charles is an Annapolis graduate, a retired USMC Lt. Col. who commanded an infantry platoon in I Corps during the Vietnam War, is the winner of the prestigious Peabody Award for news coverage, and was a protégée’s of the late Col. David H. Hackworth. Rog can be contacted at sftteditor@aol.com. .

Dragon Skin Passes Dept. Of Justice Ballistic Tests

Panic is rampant today inside one sector of the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex (MICC) as word spreads that Pinnacle Armor’s Dragon Skin flexible body armor passed the ballistic tests conducted Monday and Tuesday at United States Test Laboratory in Wichita, Kansas, on behalf of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ).

Formal certification by NIJ of Dragon Skin for Level III protection is expected within the next few weeks.

Unlike the buggy-whip manufacturers who tried to ignore the foreseeable consequences the internal combustion engine would have on their products, the rigid ballistic-protective plate manufacturers fully comprehend the probable results of NIJ’s certification. They will no doubt redouble their efforts to keep Congress from asking the tough questions about Army and Marine Corps fraudulent misrepresentations on this issue of life-or-death importance: What is the best-available body armor that our troops should be wearing?

When queried by Defense Watch about Monday’s NIJ test, Murray Neal, President of Pinnacle Armor provided this statement: Continue reading

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