by David Crane
defrev at gmail.com
Ever since the recent active-shooter incident at Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, VA), DefenseReview has been thinking about any/all technologies that could help law enforcement personnel–both SWAT and 1st Responders– deal with this type of threat. You may remember video footage of law enforcent 1st Responders (patrol officers, as usual) positioned outside the building–hiding behind trees for cover, in some cases–with their weapons pointed at the building while the shooter, Seung-Hui Cho, methodically killed 32 people with a pair of handguns (9mm Parabellum and .22 LR) in the deadliest active-shooter situation in U.S. history.
Well, a few weeks ago, CombatBodyArmor Co. (CBA) sent us some photos of their full-size developmental prototype Level IV (anti-rifle) ballistic shield after being tested for NIJ Level IV certification, as well as…
photos of a pristine, never-been-shot large shield (Note: Our readers may remember a couple of articles that we published back in July 2006 on the Mini Battle Shield, a mini-ballistic shield being developed and shoot-tested by CBA in both Level III and Level IV anti-rifle variants.). Combat Body Armor President Chris Taggart has informed DefenseReview that the shield that was shot passed the NIJ Level IV tests.
While this level of ballistic protection (Level IV) might be overkill for the VT situation, there’s no such thing as too much anti-ballistic protection in a situation like this, and authorities had no way of knowing that the shooter didn’t also have a 5.56mm or 7.62mm rifle (AR, AKM, M1A, etc.) of some type. So, it occured to us that perhaps LE 1st Responders (i.e. patrol officers) should perhaps keep an anti-rifle-capable, man-portable ballistic shield in their trunk that they can use to approach and enter a building under fire from a hostile active shooter.
In any active-shooter or terrorist situation, you have to act immediately. You must go in an neutralize the threat immediately. You can’t sit outside because you’re afraid of getting shot.
If you’re a police officer, that’s your job. Danger is your business. I discuss this very topic in my recent article for Tactical Response magazine (Tactical Training Issue). A man-portable Level III or IV anti-rifle ballistic shield, allows officers to essentially carry their ballistic cover (almost full-body coverage) with them into the building so they can address the threat without as much fear of being shot themselves. While I’m on the subject, this type of shield would have really come in handy for the patrol officers who the the 1st Responders to the 1997 Bank of America robbery.
Anyway, according to Taggart, what separates CBA’s ballistic shield tech from all the other shields out there is that the shield offers anti-rifle protection in a man-portable, field-reset-capable (i.e. field-repairable) condition, since it utilizes an open-architecture/modular design. The CBA shield is really designed for infantry warfighters faced with enemy rifle threats from AKMs, AK-74s, and PKMs and IEDs, but there’s no reason why LE patrol officers and SWAT operators can’t take advantage of the technology.
The reset capability means that military warfighters and law enforcement personnel (SWAT operators and 1st Responders) can reset the shield in the field themselves, and continue the fight. This unique capability is provided by CBA’s unique metal fabricating methods. Mr. Taggart comes out of the aerospace industry (specifically, aircraft manufacturing), and he’s applying everything he’s learned (with regard to fabrication) to CBA’s shield tech. This unique fabrication method is what, according to the company, gives the shield its reset/repair capability. This aspect, along with its man-portable anti-rifle ballistic protection capability, is what, according to CBA, separates a CBA shield from every other ballistic shield on the market.
Mr. Taggart communicated tha advantages of the CombatBodyArmor ballistic shield tech like this (edited for clarity and publication):
"The strongest points that we [CBA] make for this concept and technology are with out question:…
1) It fullfills an urgent demand and need for adequate mobile protection against enemy rifle threats and possibly even IEDs in the battlespace, as well as a means of
entering a highly dangerous, and potentially deadly, law enforcement situation consisting of either large caliber handgun or rifle threats.
2) It’s a form of ballistic armor that allows the operator mobility, and simultaneously offers him unique handling charateristics, along with the highest levels of Ballistic protection today.
3) With proper development funding behind it future versions of this armor can be made even better and better and more technologicaly
advanced, including models that could provide infantry warfighters and law enforcement personnel a tactically siginificant day/night capability and other tactical advantages.
4) Due to its open-architecture/modular design, and the fact that it utilizes COTS [Commercial Off-The-Shelf] ballistic armor solutions, the shield can be reset in the field by the warfighter using ballistic armor solutions that are already in the military supply chain (or any other lightweight COTS ballistic armor solution). This aspect also makes the shield cost-effective.
5) It can be applied to aircraft, including helicopters."
Mr. Taggart informed us that the technology can also be applied to vehicle armor (ground vehicles). Vehicular armor is big business these days. If the CombatBodyArmor tech can be applied to it, and even improve it, the company should do well.
As we already mentioned, this new ballistic shield technology is still under development, and Combat Body Armor (CBA) is currently looking for additional investment capital and/or public funding to further the technology.
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