Procurement: July 18, 2005

Archives

Since 2003, there has been a world-wide shortage in armored vests and high-tech ballistic material (as in the stuff used for the bullet proof plates that make American protective vests so effective.) The war in Iraq, and the determination of the Americans to deal with the Sunni Arab terrorists, while rebuilding Iraq, created a huge demand for the materials used protective vests and lightweight vehicle armor. It wasnt just the troops who needed the new vests, and replacement parts, but also the foreign civilians who came to Iraq, and were equal in number to the American troops there. The U.S. Department of Defense had the authority to get priority on new production of these bullet proof materials, and they have used it. 

The shortage, and the war, has caused manufacturers to increase their research into new and more effective materials.

There are currently three types of material. 

Most common are the aramid fibers, of which Kevlar is the most common type. Multiple layers of this stuff will stop low velocity bullets (from pistols) and most fragments from shells, grenades and bombs. The war on terror has prompted a lot of more research on aramid fibers, and the Kevlar brand is now available in a new version that is 25 percent lighter and more flexible (thus more comfortable to wear.) One manufacturer of aramid fibers had quality control problems recently, with its material degrading more quickly than expected to heat, humidity and rough handling. This caused massive recalls of vests, and added to the shortage. 

A competitor for aramid fibers is Dyneema, which is 40 percent stronger than aramid fibers, floats, and is more resistant to sunlight, moisture and chemicals. It is also a lot more expensive. Most protective vests still use Kevlar. 

Then there are the bullet proof plates that will stop high powered rifle projectiles. These plates tend to be either ceramics, or composed of multiple layers. Much research is going into making these plates lighter, less brittle and cheaper.

A final factor is the way these fabrics and plates are put together. The design of the protective vests can make a big difference in how effective provided is. This has produced many new products that are lighter, more effective and more comfortable to wear.

 


Article Archive

Procurement: Current 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 


X

ad
0
20

Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close