defrev at gmail dot com
November 19, 2008
Human Events is reporting on the use of Chinese armor-piercing a.k.a. armor-penetrating (AP) bullets
by enemy snipers in Afghanistan and Iraq. According to the article,
this new Chinese AP rifle ammo is copycatting U.S.-made AP ammo design,
and is "sending alarm bells through the Pentagon as it hurries to keep
pace by producing improved body armor for soldiers, Marines, airmen and
sailors, although the Chinese munitions are "not thought capable of
defeating the super-hard ceramic plates that now protect service
members against smalls-arms fire, including armor-piercing bullets."
So, why the alarm? Because, the article states, "there are intelligence reports that China is using the copycat bullets to...
board to an even better armor-defeating rifle round that would be able
to kill protected personnel," which is one of the reasons why the Army
has been so hell-bent on developing the elusive XSAPI (X Small Arms Protective Insert)
body armor. The new XSAPI body armor has suffered delay after delay due
to manufacturers' inability to bring it in within the Army's weight
requirement. So far, Pinnacle Armor Dragon Skin body armor is the only
ballistically proven Level V anti-rifle body armor system DefenseReview
has actually seen and handled.
Defense Review hasn't yet been able to examine the XSAPI
hard armor plates that Ceradyne is supposedly producing. Right now,
XSAPI is kind of like Bigfoot--only there are actually pictures of
Bigfoot. How much does an XSAPI plate weigh? We don't know. How much
does XSAPI weigh per square foot? We don't know. What's XSAPI's
thickness? We dont know. Does XSAPI work as advertised? We don't know.
What specific real-world enemy AP rounds, and how many of them, can a
single XSAPI plate stop? We don't know. What does an XSAPI
plate look like? We don't know.
DefenseReview will endeavor to
obtain the answers to these questions, however. If any of our military
readers can provide this information to us, we're open. Please drop us
an email or give us a call.
In a June 6, 2007 House Armed Services Committee hearing, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., "called for a side-by-side test of Dragon Skin
and the Interceptor run by government engineers and overseen by both
congressional and Pentagon auditors. That led to the Army's June 20
request to industry for both flexible armor designs like Dragon Skin
-- which incorporates a series of interlocking ceramic disks rather
than a single rigid plate -- and for a so-called "XSAPI" plate which
could stop armor piercing rounds the current ESAPI can't," according
Military.com. So, what were the results of that Dragon Skin vs.
Interceptor side-by-side test, and how did Dragon Skin fare in the XSAPI testing? Was it even allowed to compete?
DefenseReview will try to find out, although we're aware that the
U.S. Army's deck is rather seriously stacked against Pinnacle Armor and
its CEO Murray Neal, ever since Neal embarrassed the Army by publicly
challenging the Army's fairness with regard to body armor
testing. The Army has tried very hard in the last year and a half
or so to cut off all avenues of Pinnacle Armor's business, including
military, law enforcement and foreign sales as punishment for Mr.
Neal's insolence. Basically, they've done their best to put him
out of business. They even managed to pressure DOJ/NIJ to pull
Dragon Skin's NIJ Level III certification after it had already passed
all their (NIJ's) testing, which is unprecedented.
After Neal's little jaunt up to Capitol Hill, DefenseWatch
obtained ballistic test documents that, according to DefenseWatch,
"show blatant and unequivocal signs of having been fraudulently
altered, albeit in the most clumsy manner, to falsely portray test
results of Pinnacle Armor's Dragon Skin body armor
in three tests from August 2005 through June 2006. Additionally, sworn
depositions describe the criminal manipulation of test protocols by
Army acquisition officials to produce fraudulent test reports that
allowed them to falsely claim Dragon Skin had failed to perform to the
levels cited by its manufacturer. These criminal distortions of
standard test protocols were simple, yet breathtaking in their
Defense Review probably won't be able to obtain any ballistic test data
on XSAPI, since it's most likely classified. However, we will at least
try to find out if these mystical (and mythical) XSAPI plates actually
exist, or are simply the stuff of legend or fantasy. Stay tuned.