LAS VEGAS — Point Blank Enterprises Inc., a top supplier of body armor to the U.S. military, is out with a new series of ballistic vests that are tougher and lighter than existing products, company officials said.
The so-called Alpha Elite series comes in two versions: the Level II Elite concealable and the Level IIIA Alpha-1 tactical. The latter is 31 percent thinner and 23 percent lighter, yet 5 percent stronger than previous designs, according to Michael Foreman, vice president of government and international sales at the Pompano Beach, Fla.-based company. [click to continue…]
The U.S. Navy is working on an improved survival vest that’s designed to provide more ballistic protection for aviators while making it more comfortable to wear.
The redesigned Aircrew Endurance Survival Vest recently passed initial operating capability, a key milestone in the development of development of the life-saving equipment, the service announced in a Dec. 18 press release. The new vest is scheduled to achieve full operational capability by early 2016.
The upgraded AE survival vest provides improved ballistic-protection, superior load distribution and a new universal color for deployment in a wider variety of terrains, Navy officials said.
“Under the Aircrew Endurance program, the Navy will field a family of products all focused on reducing physical fatigue and stress during longer missions now being conducted by Navy and Marine Corps aircrew,” said Capt. Nora Burghardt, program manager at the Navy’s Aircrew Systems Program Office.
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Adm. William McRaven, head of U.S. Special Operations Command, has made it clear that he wants to build an Iron Man suit for special operators that will repel bullets and offer super human strength.
It’s been unclear how soon that Iron Man suit may be a reality. That is until Monday when the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s official Twitter page stated the U.S. wanted a contract for the suit by next fall and for full field testing to take place in “about four years.” This was written prior to linking to an article about the Iron Man suit. [click to continue…]
The Rhine Ordnance Barracks of 21st Theater Sustainment Command in Germany has received a new armor inspection system to inspect ballistic plates for deploying soldiers, the Army announced. It becomes the first armor inspection system to be established outside the U.S.
It is doubtful anyone would argue the need for inspected, readily available armor plates (certainly not Gunnery Sgt. Shawn Dempsey, picture above) for deploying personnel. Nor could anyone argue the logistical advantages of inspecting the armor closer to operational areas than another continent, in another hemisphere. However, describing the system as new is a bit of a misnomer. If you begin with the first deployed prototype, the system is at least five years old. [click to continue…]
I have to admit, I was surprised to see the Army and Marine Corps say they plan to begin fielding the long-awaited Enhanced Combat Helmet this fall. I posted a July 30 story about the announcement on Military.com.
For a while, it seemed that the ambitious endeavor was just a bridge too far for the services’ ballistic gurus – craft a new helmet that protects against rifle rounds but no heavier than the current Marine lightweight Helmet or the Army Advanced Combat Helmet.
All of the initial design candidates for ECH failed the first round of ballistic testing in late 2009. Then some of the ECHs began failing first article tests in 2011.
Army officials didn’t say much for the story, but Marine officials blamed a lot of the program challenges on new Defense Department testing guidelines introduced in the middle of first article tests.
“The ECH is the only helmet that has been tested and passed using Director of Operational Test and Evaluation protocols,” said Deidre Hooks, ECH team lead at Marine Corps Systems Command.
Following the DOT&E protocols was a challenge because test criteria changed from a pass-fail standard to one based on statistical confidence, said Kathy Halo, ECH lead engineer.
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Development for the next generation of body armor got a boost yesterday when a Congressional committee ordered the Defense Department to issue a report within the next 180 days on its strategy to reduce the weight of body armor by at least 20 percent.
The House Armed Service Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee wants the military to invest in research in developing new materials for body armor rather than rely on ones already in existence.
In 2011, a federally funded report found “the only way to achieve significant reductions, 20 percent and higher, without sacrificing safety and survivability would be through robust, sustained R&D funding over a number of years that focuses on developing new materials, as well as pursuing a modular, tailorable approach to body armor systems.”
Body armor has long been a focus for the military and plenty of lawmakers as the Defense Department tries to develop better ways to protect troops. The military has seen improvements throughout the past decade, but there is still interest in significantly reducing the weight.
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Armor Works will soon offer a new line of ballistic knee pads designed to shield soldier’s and Marine’s knee caps from enemy AK-47 fire.
The Arizona-based armor firm showed off a Level 3A version of the new ballistic knee pads on the Shot Show floor. Level 3A protects against 9mm rounds and shrapnel. A more protective version capable of stopping 7.62 x 39mm will be available soon, said William Perciballi, president and founder of Armor Works.
The new knee protection is the result of an 18-month effort with PEO Soldier to continue developing “extremity protection” options for soldiers in combat.
“For law enforcement, we are offering a level 3a, and for the military we are offering an assault-rifle version that is being tested right now,” Perciballi said. “It’s a good application for composite armor because composites have very good shaping capabilities. … We are adapting our military composite armor technology to this product where we mold the product to shape and come up with a ballistic component that hopefully people think is comfortable.”
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