U.S. Military Body Armor Saga Enters New Phase: New Trouble for Interceptor?

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by David Crane
david at defensereview.com

For the last few months, DefenseReview has been writing about the Pinnacle Armor SOV/Dragon Skin vs. Interceptor Body Armor fight. We consider this situation to be one of the most important developing news stories in the country, as it directly impacts the lives/survivability of our infantry warfighters. As the situtation has progressed, DefenseReview (DefRev) and Soldiers For The Truth (SFTT) have been virtually lone voices in the wilderness, giving the public the inside/real deal scoop on what’s really going on behind the scenes of this controversy, more specifically at U.S. Army Program Executive Office Soldier (a.k.a. PEO Soldier) and U.S. Army Natick Soldier Center/Soldier Systems Center (Natick). We’ve both also reported on just how superior Dragon Skin really is to Interceptor Body Armor. Make no mistake, Dragon Skin is hands-down, no-question-about-it superior to Interceptor Body Armor in every combat-relevant way. However, to date, the only two places you can get that info are DefRev and SFTT (as far as we are aware). For the real-deal info, we’ve been it, not the "mainstream media" outlets.

So, why am I going into all this, here? Well, as it turns out, Newsday staff writer Robert Kessler has just written a story, dated May 11, 2006, about a joint FBI/Department of Defense (DoD) criminal investigation into possible fraud and insider trading at DHB Industries, Inc., parent company of Point Blank Body Armor, Inc., which manufactures the Interceptor OTV (Outer Tactical Vest) component. The article is titled Fraud probe of LI armor company. It looks like the investigators are…
particularly interested in one David Brooks, 51, of Old Westbury, NY.. Mr. Brooks is DHB’s CEO, and the same gentleman who reportedly threw his daughter a $10 million (no, that’s not a misprint) Bat Mitsvah where Aerosmith, 50 Cent (or "Fitty Cent", as we like to call him here at DefRev), Tom Petty, and Stevie Nicks reportedly performed. Perfectly normal. DHB President and retired General Larry Ellis has apparently been incommunicado with Mr. Kessler and the rest of the folks at Newsday about the criminal investigation. Smart. If I were him, I wouldn’t be talking right now, either. I’d keep my mouth shut and let the lawyers handle it. Then again, I’m the son of a litigation specialist (a.ka. trial lawyer), so I was taught that one early on.

But I digress. Getting back on point, to add insult to injury for DHB Industries/Point Blank, Kessler’s article also mentions that the "Army announced yesterday it would hold an open design competition for the next generation of body armor, intended to replace DHB’s Interceptor armor." Now we’re talkin’. That’s more like it–assuming they let Pinnacle Armor play. While it’s Defense Review’s opinion that the U.S. Army should just save everybody a lot of time and money and name Pinnacle Armor SOV-2000 (Level III/III+) and/or SOV-3000 (Level IV/IV+) Dragon Skin as Interceptor’s replacement right now by sole sourcing it–as no other body armor in the world can currently touch it with regard to anti-ballistic performance against rifle rounds–we’re cautiously optimistic about the open competition the Army has planned (again, provided that they let Pinnacle participate, i.e. compete). If the competition and requisite testing are conducted fairly and Dragon Skin is allowed in, we don’t see how Pinnacle Armor can lose. Provided that the competition is conducted on the level (and Pinnacle is allowed to compete, DefRev predicts a nice big fluffy contract for Pinnacle, provided they can meet the Army’s per-unit-cost perameters and quantity requirements. With economies of scale, we think they can (meet the cost requirements). However, it’s DefRev’s understanding that the Army currently plans to limit the competition to "plates" (unconfirmed/unverified), which would effectively keep Pinnacle Armor out of the competition, since Dragon Skin employs imbricated discs (imbricated disc pattern). We hope the Army modifies this perameter, if the information we’ve received is correct. We’ll investigate it.

James Bernstein, another Newsday staff writer, has written an article titled Army deals blow to body armor maker DHB Industries that goes into more detail on the Army’s newly-announced body armor competition and DHB’s reaction to it. Bernstein quoted Mr. Ellis as saying "Quite frankly, I think we’ve got the best design out there." As outright laughable as Mr. Ellis’ statement may be to DefRev, we certainly respect his right to make it. I mean, what else can he really do, at this point. To quote Tom Cruise’s character Vincent in the movie Collateral, "…we’re into Plan B. Still breathing? Now we gotta make the best of it, improvise, adapt to the environment, Darwin, shit happens, I Ching, whatever man, we gotta’ roll with it."

That pretty much sums it up for DHB/Point Blank at present. Mr. Ellis may actually be correct when he says "We [DHB Industries] know more about that vest than anyone [referring to Interceptor OTV]." They probably do. Then again, who cares. Being the most knowledgeable company in the room about a flawed body armor system isn’t a very impressive accomplishment.

It would seem that U.S. Army PEO Soldier’s and Natick’s continuing active blockage of Pinnacle Armor Dragon Skin, including but certainly not limited to the current ban on individual warfighter purchases of Dragon Skin body armor, is a all part of a delaying tactic to enable them to keep issuing contracts–one after the other–to companies like DHB Industries, Inc./Point Blank Body Armor, Inc. and Armor Holdings, Inc. (unconfirmed/unverified). On May 5th, 2006, DHB announced that its subsidiary, Point Blank, had received a $12.2 million order from the "Federal Government". On April 26, 2006, Armor Holdings announced that it had received an $11.6 million order for ceramic armor plates.

DefenseReview finds it interesting that DHB’s Director of Finance/CFO, Lawrence Litowitz, recently resigned from the company after taking over from Dawn Schlegel, who had resigned on April 7, 2006. The Associated Press (AP) reported that Litowitz’s resignation was just the latest in a series of problems at DHB. The following is from the AP:

"Litowitz’s resignation was the latest in a series of financial problems at the company, which recently missed the deadline to file its 2005 annual report as it reviews the accuracy of reported inventory levels. The company was notified in early April that it was not in compliance with American Stock Exchange listing standards because of the delayed filing. A company spokesman was not immediately available for comment. DHB is also the target of purported shareholder class action suits alleging insider sales by directors and officers.
The company has had product problems as well. On May 4 last year the Marine Corps recalled 5,277 combat vests made by DHB’s Point Blank unit after media reports about the vests’ ability to stop bullets. The Marine Corps subsequently said the vests met safety standards."

DefenseReview wouldn’t be surprised if Mr. Litowitz and Ms. Schlegel had some interesting stories from their time at the company.

Jerome Krantz, Chairman of the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors for DHB Industries, Inc., has also resigned from the company. Mr. Krantz has also been referred to as "a director of the company." DHB announced Mr. Krantz’s resignation on May 11, 2006. It’s reported that Mr. Krantz resigned for "personal reasons".

Anyway, for the sake of all of our active U.S. infantry warfighters/DefRev readers runnin’ and gunnin’ over there in the Sandbox (or soon to be doing so), we sincerely hope that the Army lifts its ban on Dragon Skin post haste, whether or not it wins the Army’s upcoming competition. They deserve the absolute best weaponry and equipment money can buy. They deserve the best chance possible of coming home alive and healthy. When it comes to the best body armor for anti-rifle protection (protection against enemy and "friendly" rifle rounds, including high-velocity and AP rifle rounds), Interceptor ain’t it, and SOV/Dragon Skin is. That’s just how it is. That’s the reality. Let’s hope that the "mainstream media" realizes it sooner rather than later and starts reporting on this, themselves. The American public deserves to know, and Defense Review will continue doing it’s part to make sure they do.

Editor’s Note: The author, David Crane, was the first journalist to write about Pinnacle Armor SOV/Dragon Skin in any technical detail, to the best of DefenseReview’s knowledge.

Directly below are DefenseReview’s (DefRev) two most recent articles on Pinnacle Armor Dragon Skin vs. Interceptor Body Armor:

U.S. Air Force Sets the Record Straight on Dragon Skin Body Armor

Video Clips and Previous Articles on Pinnacle Armor SOV/Dragon Skin Body Armor:

Right-click on the links below and then click on "Save Target As" (if using Microsoft Internet Explorer browser) or "Save Link As" (if using Mozilla Firefox browser) to download and view the video clips of live-fire testing of Pinnacle Armor SOV/Dragon Skin body armor vs. 7.62x39mm FMJ military ball ammo and 9mm FMJ military ball ammo (multiple rounds of each fired at the vest on full-auto) 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.

on the links below and then click on "Save Target As" (if using Microsoft Internet Explorer browser) or "Save Link As" (if using Mozilla Firefox browser) to download and view the following Real Player and Windows Media format video clips of Pinnacle Armor SOV-1000 vs. multiple rounds of 7.62x51mm/.308 Win M80 ball FMJ ammo:

Real Player version (SOV-1000 Dragon Skin vs. multiple rounds of 7.62x51mm/.308 Win. M80 ball ammo)

Windows Media Version (SOV-1000 Dragon Skin vs. multiple rounds of M80 ball 7.62x51mm/.308 Win. FMJ ammo)

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):

U.S. Military Body Armor Saga Enters New Phase: New Trouble for Interceptor? 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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