By Barbara Starr
Body armor plates used by special operations forces in combat are being recalled after a manufacturing defect was found in what the military says is a small percentage of the Generation III ballistic armor plates.
"No USSOCOM service members have been killed or wounded as the result of a defective ballistic plate, but the command is removing failed plates from the operational inventories," said Kenneth McGraw, a spokesman for the U.S. Special Operations Command.
Sampling of production lots discovered failure in the lamination of ceramic and steel portions in less than 5% of the GEN III ballistic plates, which are worn inside armored vests during combat. As a result, the flawed vests are being recalled, along with specific production lots in which testing has determined the flaw has occurred.
McGraw said a procedure has been developed to test plates in the field. The problem, he said, stems from "the manufacturer's internal manufacturing and quality assurance processes. The manufacturer has provided the government all information that applies to the defect and has developed a corrective action plan designed to solve the delamination problem."
The manufacturer is Ceradyne Inc. of Costa Mesa, California.
Special Operations Command is now issuing an older generation of plates until a full inventory of GEN III replacement plates is manufactured. A contract has been awarded to Leading Technology Composites Inc. of Wichita, Kansas, to manufacture replacement plates.
Cerradyne also will produce replacement plates using the revised manufacturing and quality assurance plans, McGraw said.