Interceptor vs. Dragon Skin: Body Armor Fight Gets Ugly

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by David Crane

Everyone who’s been following the U.S. Army’s body armor drama involving Interceptor body armor program vs. SOV/Dragon Skin body armor is probably already aware that U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center (Natick)/Natick Soldier Center and PEO Soldier (Program Executive Office Soldier) have essentially declared war on Pinnacle Armor. According to Major General Jefferey A. Sorenson, Deputy for Acquisition and Systems Management, not only has Dragon Skin “not yet passed testing”, but it also “isn’t anywhere near” standard Interceptor body armor’s capabilities.

Really? That’s interesting, considering that Murray Neal, CEO of Pinnacle Armor, has told us that both Level III/III+ and Level IV (classified) Dragon Skin have undergone testing at the U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center (ATC)–to Secretary of Defense Standards (military standards), no less–and passed those tests. This information would seem to be at direct odds the following statements made by Mr. Sorenson: "In some cases we haven’t seen this capability … has done anything to provide force protection we evaluate is even standard," and "all other claims being made (about Dragon Skin are) … exactly what they are: claims." It’s our understanding that the DoD ballistic test standards mentioned above are more stringent than NIJ standards. In those tests (which did happen, by the way), Dragon Skin reportedly…

proved to be superior to Interceptor body armor. ATC and ARL are both recognized and trusted Department of Defense (DoD) test facilities (including ballistic testing), but they don’t appear to be Natick’s and PEO’s preferred ballistic testing facilities. That now dubious honor goes to H.P. White Laboratory, Inc., a civilian test facility. Interestingly, a number of professionals in the ballistic armor field that we’ve spoken with do not trust H.P. White Laboratory to conduct fair ballistic testing of their products, as they believe H.P. White to be biased towards U.S. Army Natick Soldier Center/Soldier Systems Center (Natick) and PEO Soldier. In fact, H.P. White is so preferred by these two organizations that General James R. Moran (James R. Moran) would reportedly only agree to test Dragon Skin/SOV body armor at this facility. Hmh.

Defense Review has received information that General Moran recently retrieved copies of written ballistic test data on SOV/Dragon Skin and original Dragon Skin shoot packs from these facilities (unconfirmed/unverified), for some reason. If he has indeed taken this action, what’s he/PEO currently doing with the data and shoot packs?  Have they already studied them?  What are their findings?  Also, has Gen. Moran followed proper military protocols and procedures, to date (regarding this situation)?  These are all questions to which DefenseReview would like answers.  Of course, we have a few additional questons for General Moran, if we can reach him for comment.

Defense Review must admit to being somewhat shocked by the rather committed statements that Major General Sorenson has made, especially since DefRev and many tactical professionals (including military, law enforcement, and PSC/PMC operators) believe Dragon Skin/SOV body armor to be hands-down superior to Interceptor body armor in pretty much every way. Mr. Sorenson has really put himself out on a limb, here. If the Dragon Skin ballistic test data and shoot packs that Gen. Moran retrieved prove that Dragon Skin is superior to Interceptor, Mr. Sorenson, Natick, and PEO are going to find themselves in a really embarrassing situation.

Let’s cut to the chase: Like we said in the first sentence of the first paragraph of this story, Natick and PEO have basically declared war on Pinnacle Armor and Dragon Skin.  It’s DefRev’s opinion that what we’re all seeing here is an economic and political fight, a high-stakes turf war, if you will. It would appear that U.S. Army Natick and PEO are actively protecting their Interceptor body armor program and preferred contractors (soft armor and ceramic hard armor components), and blocking Dragon Skin from being adopted/procured, even though (we believe) these organizations are already aware that Dragon Skin is superior to Interceptor, with Dragon Skin offering superior ballistic protection to Interceptor in terms of coverage area at the same weight, multi-hit capability, threat level protection, and durability.

If we’re right, these organizations (U.S. Army Natick and PEO Soldier) are working against the best interest of our infantry warfighters, because they’re keeping them from receiving the best ballistic protection that’s currently available–technology that could better protect them from enemy ballistic threats. And, the worst part is, they’re doing this during wartime. If we’re correct in our assessment, then the actions we’ve described could actually rise to the level of treason. We don’t use the “T” word lightly. The actions that have been taken so far by certain individuals are potentially criminal and thus prosecutable acts. Our warfighters’ lives are at stake (again, during wartime). Remember, our infantry warfighters are currently suffering approx. 95% of all combat casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan (and anywhere else in the world, for that matter), so they deserve the best weapons and ballistic protection they can get. In our opinion, as well as the opinions of a number of military and PSC/PMC professionals we’ve spoken with, Interceptor simply ain’t it, and SOV/Dragon Skin is (the best existing body armor for anti-rifle protection).

Defense Review has heard an unconfirmed/unverified report (a rumor, actually) that Gen. Moran has been asked to retire early, and that he’ll be doing so in June or July. We don’t yet know whether or not this rumor is true. We’ll try to find out. If it is true, we’ll try to find out the reason(s) for his early retirement.

Pinnacle Armor’s Response

So, what’s Pinnacle Armor’s take on the situation, so far? Murray Neal, Pinnacle’s CEO, recently told DefenseReview that "Pinnacle Armor has a standing invitation for the U.S. Army to do a side-by-side [live-fire test of Dragon Skin body armor vs. Interceptor body armor], that when the smoke clears, that the Army agrees that whatever’s left standing without holes in it gets outfitted to the Army soldiers [immediately]–and the Interceptor won’t be that system . They can put the best Interceptor body armor they have, and we’ll put ours [Dragon Skin] next to it…[reiterates challenge]". Mr. Neal added that information (written ballistic test data and video footage) to Pinnacle’s level IV SOV/Dragon Skin would of course have to remain classified (as it is, currently). Pinnacle Armor’s Level III/III+ Dragon Skin has not been classified by the U.S. military.

"If someone finds the holy grail we will be right there to back up the dump truck and buy it," Sorenson has said. Defense Review would like to believe him (for the sake of our troops).

However, as much as we’d like to see the U.S. Army take Pinnacle Armor up on Mr. Neal’s challenge (under fair and video-taped conditions, with Pinnacle Armor representatives and independent witnesses present), we’re guessing they won’t. It’s our belief that they can’t, because Dragon Skin will beat Interceptor hands down, and they know this. If this were to happen, it could potentially prove fatal to the Interceptor body armor program—and Natick and PEO won’t allow that to happen.

Stay tuned on this one, folks. DefRev’s got more exclusive info coming.


In the meantime, right-click on the links below and then click on "Save Target As" to download and view the video clips (live-fire testing of Pinnacle Armor SOV/Dragon Skin body armor) below:

Pinnacle Armor SOV/Dragon Skin Indoor Shooting Test (Standard Range View) on 1/26/06 — 21 Rounds 7.62x39mm FMJ military ball ammo fired at 20 feet from AK-47/AKM-variant rifle, and 120 rounds 9mm FMJ military ball ammo fired at 10 feet from Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun.

Pinnacle Armor Dragon Skin/SOV Indoor Shooting Test (Uninterrupted Close-Up View) on 1/26/06
— 21 Rounds 7.62x39mm FMJ military ball ammo fired at 20 feet from AK-47/AKM-variant rifle, and 120 rounds 9mm FMJ military ball ammo fired at 10 feet from HK MP5 subgun.

Pinnacle Armor SOV/Dragon Skin Outdoor Shooting Test (Standard Range View) on 1/27/06 — 40 rounds of 7.62x39mm FMJ military ball ammo fired at 20 feet from AKM/AK-47-variant rifle, and 150 rounds of 9mm FMJ military ball ammo fired at 10 feet from HK MP5 subgun.
The following are links to previous DefRev articles on the ongoing Pinnacle Armor SOV/Dragon Skin vs. Interceptor Body Armor situation (in order from most recent to least recent):

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Interceptor vs. Dragon Skin: Body Armor Fight Gets Ugly by

About David Crane

David Crane started publishing online in 2001. Since that time, governments, military organizations, Special Operators (i.e. professional trigger pullers), agencies, and civilian tactical shooters the world over have come to depend on Defense Review as the authoritative source of news and information on "the latest and greatest" in the field of military defense and tactical technology and hardware, including tactical firearms, ammunition, equipment, gear, and training.

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