Existing Body Armor for Extremeties
Experimental Body Armor for IED
The Army says it anticipates the "next generation" body armor will use shaped inserts to provide improved protection and is said to currently be testing them.
Primary U.S. Military Body Armor Manufacturers / Suppliers
Design Criteria for Body Armor for ExtremitiesThere are many criteria involved. Among the more significant ones are:
Protective Ratings and Standards for Body ArmorThe primary standard used by police is the Ballistic Resistance of Personal Body Armor NIJ Standard - 0101.04. It describes resistance levels, processes used to test body armor, sampling methods, testing with inserts, labeling standards, and Appendix C briefly covers body armor selection.
Body Armor is classified into categories based on the level of protection provided (the maximum projectile it will protect against. Details provided in the standard above are summarized in the table below.
Conventional body armor has an additional set of standards relating to its ability to defend against stabbing attacks.
National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Body Armor Safety Initiative lists models tested and found to be compliant with certain standards.
Body Armor Standards include:
Body Armor DemonstrationsSeveral manufacturers supply videos showing the performance of their body armor while taking life fire of various rounds. Note those posted on YouTube.com tend to have some rough languge in the comments & responses..
Materials Used in Construction of Body ArmorPopular ballistic resistant fabrics include:
Dyneema does not appear to be effected by exposure to the elements.
SAPI and ESAPI Ballistic Plates / InsertsSmall Arms Protective Insert (SAPI) and Enhanced Small Arms Protective Insert (ESAPI) are used to raise the threat protection level of soft armor vest from pistols to higher velocity pistol rounds and to rifles. A large plate is used for the front and another large plate for the back of the U.S. military issue Interceptor vest. The plates are approximately 10 inches by 12 inches in size (sizing varies with vest size).
These plates are made of a high-tech boron carbide ceramic.
In addition to just stopping the bullet, these inserts try to accomplish that feat with minimal deformation to the rear (if the bullet makes a big dent in it, it makes a big dent in the person). This is accomplished by the use of ceramic plates backed by several layers of non-woven fabric film. The plates are designed to be inserted to be struck from one face (must not be put in backwards) and are so labeled.
The plates come with a "Use and Care Manual"
ULSS 002004-15 Small Arms Protective Insert (PCN 132 13210913000) Located at https://pubs.ala.usmc.mil/pcnsearch.asp Use and Care Manual: TM 10647A-12 Outer Tactical Vest (OTV) and Small Arms Protective Insert (SAPI) (PCN: 50010647000) Located at https://pubs.ala.usmc.mil/pcnsearch.aspYou must have a CAC card (Common Access Card, a general military ID card) to access the manuals online. Plates and manuals can also often be purchased on eBay or possibly at a local Army Surplus Store.
Sizing of Body ArmorSizing creates a major headache for manufacturers. Men and women of all sizes are wearing the Interceptor type vests. Most body armor for the extremities somehow attaches to the Interceptor and is also made in a broad range of sizes and also holds SAPI and ESAPI plates of different sizes. It can be a manufacturers nightmare as a well as a stocking and inventory problem for outfitting areas.
The Interceptor Outer Tactical Vest is a unisex garment made in 8 sizes (X-Small to XXXX-Large). SAPI plates for the front and back of the vest are available in 5 sizes (X-Small to X-Large).
Point Blank Body Armor's Interceptor Outer Tactical Vest (OTV) military version that accepts hard armor plates is available in 5 sizes.
Woodland Camo National Stock Numbers for Interceptor OTV military version are:
8470-01-465-1863 X-Small 8470-01-465-1864 Small 8470-01-465-1866 Medium 8470-01-465-1867 Large 8470-01-465-1868 X-LargeIn addition to these sizes, the military provides Interceptor Body Armor (IBA) in three additional larger sizes (XX-L, XXX-L, and XXXX-L). They also provide the front and back ballistic plates (SAPI and ESAPI) in 5 sizes (X-Small thru X-Large).
The new Improved Outer Tactical Vest (IOTV) or Modular Tactical Vest (MTV) being trialed in early April 2007 will be available in "Long" versions bringing its total number of sizes to 11.
Point Blank Body Armor has a sizing chart for their Interceptor OTV that allows users to enter their body measurements to allow professionals to pick the best "letter" size for them.
As mentioned earlier, sizing, along with updates/improvements/next generation components creates headaches for military logistics as well. We came across what appears to be an internal U.S. Marine Document on the deployment of QuadGuard, Cooling Vests, SAPI and E-SAPI plates mentioning some of the factors that have to be considered in procuring and delivering all these materials to the right people, including priorities of who gets the early ones.
Body Armor Research & Testing Facilities
Some of these efforts can be followed from the DOD SBIR Resource Center. One of note recently is A07-157 (Army) for Smart Small Arms Ballistic Inserts. Ceramic inserts are subject to cracking and composite backing can be separated from them on impact. The Army is looking for a way to non destructively test for cracks and delamination in the field. Proposals will be accepted from 14 May 2007 - 13 June 2007.
Among them have been:
Improvised Explosive Devices IEDs
Counter Explosive Hazards Center (CEHC) at at Ft Leonard Wood, Missouri is an Army training center for reducing IED and land mine injuries. Portions of one of their training manuals is are online at Improvised Explosive Defeat.
There will also be an international IED conference in May. 3rd Annual Countering IEDs Conference Amsterdam Netherlands. 15-16 May 2007.
2nd Annual Military Armor Protection Conference: Latest Advances to Reduce Human Casualties and Vehicle Damage. May 21-22, 2007. Alexandria VA presented by IDGA.
A symposium was also in North Carolina in 2006. IED 2006 Symposium & Expo at Fayetteville NC, June 12-14, 2006.
See our Bibliography section for additional information on IEDs.
Injuries from Improvised Explosive Devices (IED)See our Bibliography section for additional information on IED injuries.
Other Possible Benefits of Body Armor for IEDBurns are rapidly becoming a larger portion of battlefield injuries due to direct exposure to the blast of IEDs and from secondary exposure to burning vehicles, clothing and equipment set on fire by IEDs. Soldiers are burned primarily in areas not protected by clothing or equipment. Body Armor for IED built as a fireproof garment could help protect against burns.
Burns are also becoming a bigger concern with the use of shape charges / Explosively Formed Projectiles (EFPs) also known as Penetrators. They launch molten metal at very high velocities.
Business of Body ArmorSeveral large and small companies are players in the body armor business. Until relatively recently, police forces have been the focus of many manufacturers. Now, the war in Irag and other unrests around the globe have greatly increased U.S. Military consumption of body armor and attracted the attention of more manufacturers.
The U.S. Military has long been perceived as hard to deal with due to government contracts, military specifications, red tape, long standing relationships with huge defense contractors and other issues. Rapid turn arounds due to changing needs in Iraq at least lowered some of these hurdles.
Current U.S. Government requests for quotations and recent contract awards for body armor can be viewed on FebBizOpps by entering "body armor" in the search box.
The U.S. Government also publishes requests for information and research there such as these:
Industry Analysis for Body Armor Procurement is a great MBA report written by a couple Naval Post Graduates in December 2006 (Coleen Foust and Christopher Jenson). It focuses on procurement, but also includes good coverage of the market, a review of the players and other relevant business information. Adobe Page 57 (real page 41) is especially interesting with its Industry Product Flow Diagram showing how the several sub industries (fiber producers, powder producers, ceramic plate producers, fabric vest producers, and body armor manufacturers work together, and the major companies involved, including the governing organizations. Deltoid and Axillary Protectors are on Adobe page 65-66.
Purchasing Body Armor for a Individual SoldierSome families and friends raise money to purchase body armor for a solidier or their soldier's unit in Iraq, Afghanistan or other troubled regions. It is our understanding the U.S. Army prohibits use of vests purchased by individuals and prohibits the use of all vests except for its Army issued Interceptor.
Effective 17 April 2007 the U.S. Marine Corps similarly banned the use of commercial body armor per MARADMIN Number 262/07 (see item number 5). We strongly suggest you make sure any vest you might purchase for an individual could actually be used by them and that it could actually be shipped to them (there are some restrictions on the shipping of these materials). Plus be aware that most vest require very expensive plate inserts (SAPI or ESAPI) to achieve maximum protection.
Shipping Level II and Level IV Rifle Plates (hard armor) to destinations outside the United States requires an export permit from the U.S. Department of State which may take a month or longer to acquire. See the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls for additional information.