by David Crane
I also wrote an article specifically for Military.com SoldierTech, titled Body Armor Times 10: Pinnacle’s Innovative, Flexible Body Armor
that provides more detailed information about Dragon Skin/SOV flexible body armor’s unique protective attributes and capabilities. After reading that article, Nat Helms from Soldiers for the Truth (SFTT) ended up interviewing me and subsequently quoting me in his excellent article
on Pinnacle Armor Dragon Skin, titled Getting America’s Best?
. We highly suggest that you read it.
Once you read those, you can understand our surprise upon…
reading some of the statements made by Lt. Col. Maginnis (Ret.) (Interceptor Body Armor proponent) during the aforementioned interview, including the following:
Maginnis: [On Dragon Skin
] "Well, it would be if it was all proven through science. You know, certainly the shoulders and the neck, major difference with this — no groin protection. And, you know, the contracting people as well as the Army scientists say, look, be careful with dragon skin because it’s good for a knife fight, but we don’t want to take it to Iraq because of the ballistic issues. And they’re not comfortable with it yet, but perhaps in the future."
Hmm. So, according to Lt. Col. Maginnis (Ret.), Pinnacle Armor’s SOV Flexible Body Armor/Dragon Skin
isn’t proven enough through science and, according to "Army Scientists", one needs to "be careful" with Dragon Skin
because, again, according to "Army Scientists", "it’s good for a knife fight, but we don’t want to take it to Iraq because of the ballistic issues." Really. Folks, this one’s about to get REALLY interesting. We’re interested to see if Lt. Col. Maginnis and his "Army Scientists" can actually back up his statement. Defense Review is particularly interested in seeing their data regarding the "ballistic issues" Lt. Col. Maginnis (Ret.) mentioned.
Lt. Col. Maginnis’ (Ret.) statements were challenged by Lt. Col. Roger Charles (Ret.) (Pinnacle Armor SOV/Dragon Skin flexible body armor
proponent), who said "[on Pinnacle Armor Dragon Skin body armor] This will not only will take that hit but will take multiple hits and the ceramic plate used in Interceptor
, one of the complaints from the troops in the field was that too often after one round impact, then you had a bunch of gravel basically inside the pouch.". Lt. Col. Charles (Ret.) went on to say, "[on Dragon Skin] There was an unsolicited letter from an American contractor over there who was shot eight times in the back wearing one of these that he purchased for his own use. And he did not know he had been shot until he got back and took it off and saw the bullet perforations in the canvas cover. There was no soft tissue damage so it’s proven in the field that it can take multiple hits and still provide protection."
It’s Lt. Col. Charles’ (Ret.) opinion that the reason the U.S. Army has chosen to outfit U.S. troops with Interceptor body armor over Pinnacle Armor SOV flexible body armor/Dragon Skin is that the U.S. Army suffers from "not invented here" syndrome. "The basic reason, as hard as this may be for your audience to understand, is not invented here: Bureaucratic turf protection because the Army people that were charged with providing this ten, fifteen years ago had a program — it produced something beginning in 1998 I believe, 1999. But it wasn’t this – and they didn’t want to use this because they did not claim invention of it," Charles said. He continues, "We were told by several independent consultants who work for the Pentagon that cannot be named because of fear of losing their jobs that this was probably the best available body armor. It’s what they would take to Baghdad. They do not have any financial ties with Pinnacle Armor. We’re not saying it’s the best. We’re saying it ought to get a fair test."
Here’s one solution (to settle the argument): Have one or two independent testing centers that both U.S. Army Natick and Pinnacle Armor trust test both body armor systems (Interceptor body armor and Dragon Skin body armor) side-by-side in a set number of combat-relevant ballistic tests under a reasonable time limit to determine a winner. The number, type, and duration of the ballistic tests should be determined and overseen by an independent and impartial group/entity, with both parties (U.S. Army Natick and Pinnacle Armor present as witnesses during all tests). If the U.S. Army doesn’t want to do that (for instance, if they want to claim it’s too expensive), there is another way:
It’s Defense Review’s understanding that Pinnacle Armor’s SOV/Dragon Skin flexible hard armor system has been tested to Mil-Spec protocols at the Army Research Laboratory (ARL), U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center (ATC), United States Test Laboratory (USTL), and H.P. White Laboratory, Inc.. It’s our understanding at present that both Level III+ and Level IV (Classified) Dragon Skin has been tested. If the U.S. Army’s Interceptor body armor has also been tested via identical Mil-Spec testing protocols by at least two of these same facilities, those facilities (and both Pinnacle Armor and U.S. Army Natick/Natick Soldier Center (NSC)) should already have enough ballistic data to present on their respective body armor systems to declare a winner, right now.(Those facilities and Pinnacle Armor, Inc. would only be allowed to present data on their Level III+ armor, since Pinnacle’s Level IV armor’s anti-ballistic capabilities are classified). There should also already be a fair amount of field performance data for both systems in terms of wearability, durability, and anti-ballistic performance. We’ll investigate it.
DefenseReview will be following this story very closely and posting follow-ups to this article. Needless to say, we’re going to try to secure interviews with Lt. Col. Maginnis and the Army scientists he refers to, as soon as possible.
So, stay tuned. This should be good.
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