Video: Do U.S. soldiers have the best body armor?

updated 6/6/2007 6:25:51 PM ET 2007-06-06T22:25:51

Federal lawmakers on Wednesday requested independent third-party testing of whether standard-issue body armor for U.S. soldiers is more effective than an alternative.

At issue are conflicts between year-old test results released by the Army last month and testing conducted by NBC News and broadcast in May.

“Let’s get right down to the nuts and bolts here and see which one of these tests are right,” Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., ranking member of the House Armed Services committee, said at a hearing on the issue.

On May 3 at a ballistics laboratory in Germany, NBC News testing showed that Dragon Skin, made by privately held Pinnacle Armor Inc., outperformed Interceptor, the Army’s standard-issue armor. Before the results were aired, a retired U.S. general reviewed the testing conducted in simulated combat conditions.

Army disputes NBC report
The Army disputes the results and released a report contradicting NBC’s claims after the network’s report aired.

Murray Neal, Pinnacle’s chief executive, testified Wednesday that the Army misrepresented and distorted its test results.

“I’m asking for an independent test because the information coming out of the Army is fraught full of inaccuracies,” Neal said.

Senior Army officials testified that they were confident in what they said are “unbiased” test results.

Dragon Skin is provided to some special services soldiers and others can buy it with their own money if they don’t like the heavier-weight Interceptor armor.

Pinnacle has competed for Army contracts on body armor but lost out five times because its product did not meet specifications.

Costa Mesa, Calif.-based Ceradyne Inc. and Chandler, Ariz.-based Armor Works LLC are two companies that manufacture Interceptor. Falls Church, Va.-based General Dynamics Corp., identified in an earlier story as a body armor manufacturer, makes armor for vehicles, not personnel.

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