I just got off the phone with PEO Soldier's Col. Bill Cole who's in charge of procuring body armor for the service. He wanted to just add some context to the story we posted yesterday stemming from the DoD IG's release of its third body armor procurement and testing report.
In yesterday's post, we noted that the IG was concerned that the Army had skipped FAT testing and lowered requirements because ballistic tests of some contract lots resulted in failures. All contracts for IBA were between 2004-2006 and covered the pre-IOTV design.
Here's what the IG said:
On two of the five contracts, PM SEQ lowered the testing requirements after three individual tests did not achieve the minimum velocity requirements. PM SEQ lowered the requirement to reduce the risk from fielding delays.This finding covers a requirements change from a spec determined in 1998 to a newer, slightly more enhanced spec released in 2002. Cole indicated that the Army had made an error in the new spec, substituting the V-50 ballistic spec for the V-zero ballistic spec for fragmentation. During internal Army tests the service realized its error (the V-zero indicates the velocity where NO fragments are supposed to penetrate, V-50 is the velocity where an average of 50 percent of the fragments are stopped -- a higher velocity than the V-zero) and returned to the 1998 spec.
The IG also said:
On 1 of the 5 contracts, PM SEQ accepted 70 lots before a First Article Test (FAT) was performed because the materials used were identical to previously approved materials. Of 900 lots on the five contracts, 560 met the lot acceptance test (LAT) requirements. For the remaining 340 lots, PM SEQ did not require LATs because either the materials were previously approved, or PM SEQ did not require the insertion of new ballistic panels.
Cole explained that this finding covered deltoid and auxiliary protectors, not the full-on vests. He argued that at the time the Army was under a lot of pressure to field these components and since they were made from the same run of Kevlar at almost the same time as the vests themselves, there was no need to do a ton of lot testing for these components given the demand for the extra protection.
Cole added that it is unlikely any Soldiers are wearing the DAPS that were part of this report and they're surely not wearing the OTV -- since most of these contracts covered three-color desert OTVs anyway.