Defense Department report questions safety of body armor plates

August 24, 2011

Washington – Due to improper testing, the U.S. Army cannot ensure more than 5 million bullet-resistant plates for troop body armor provide appropriate protection, according to a report from the Department of Defense Inspector General.

The report (.pdf file), dated Aug. 1, examined seven contracts for the plates, called ballistic inserts, which are used in body armor vests. DoD IG found that the Army tested the wrong size inserts, used inconsistent methodology for measuring and recording velocity, and failed to require weather and altitude tests on some contracts awarded between 2004 and 2006. As a result, the Army could provide only “limited assurance” that the plates met performance standards, the report said.

However, DoD IG did not conduct its own testing on the body armor, so it could not say whether or not the inserts were defective.

In comments included in the report, the Army said it “conducts rigorous and extensive testing of body armor to ensure that it meets U.S. Army standards and is safe for use in combat.”