American Army released test results showing that a privately sold flexible body armor that some families have sought for their soldiers failed extensive military testing.
Pieces of the hefty Dragon Skin armor, with ragged holes torn through its yellow inner skin, were propped up on the floor in the Pentagon as Army officials detailed the ammunition and temperature testing the armor failed.
Although the tests were done nearly a year ago, the Army declined to release details until Monday, after recent NBC News reports suggested that the Dragon Skin may be better than the Army-issued Interceptor armor.
As a result of the reports, some members of Congress have asked for an investigation, and others have asked the Army for more information.
"We take this personally," said Brig. Gen. Mark Brown, executive officer for the Army's armor testing program. "One-third of the general officers in the United States Army have either a son or daughter either in theater (at war) today or (who) has been to theater."
The body armor debate has raged almost since the Afghanistan and Iraq wars began, as the Army struggled at times to get all of the needed equipment to its soldiers, both active and reserve. At times, family members around the United States were raising money, having bake sales, and spending thousands of dollars of their own cash to buy armor and equipment for their loved ones going to war.
Holding up an armor-piercing bullet, Brown showed video of the tests, including footage of officials peering into the bullet hole in the Dragon Skin armor. "At the end of the day, this one disc has to stop this round. It didn't. Thirteen times," he said.
In response, Murray Neal, president of Pinnacle Armor which produces Dragon Skin, suggested that the Army lied about some of the testing, and he asked why the Army was counting shots that "were fired into the non-rifle defeating areas."
The Army on Monday said it was releasing the test details to help prevent families from spending money on body armor that is not as good as the protection already issued to the soldiers.
Brown described "catastrophic failures" by the Dragon Skin armor, and said that in 13 of 48 shots, lethal armor-piercing rounds either shattered the discs that make up the armor, or completely penetrated the vest.
"Zero failures is the correct answer," he said. "One failure is sudden death and you lose the game."
Brown added that the armor failed to endure required temperatures shifts which weakened the adhesive holding the discs together.
The Dragon Skin, he said, weighs 47.5 pounds (21.5 kilograms), compared to the Army-issued Interceptor armor, which weighs 28 pounds (12.7 kilograms).
Army officials said they would be going to Capitol Hill this week to talk to lawmakers about the armor issue.
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