Sunday, July 10, 2011

USMC inspects body armor using X-rays to keep our Marines safe

The USMC is all about making sure MARINES are ready, able & capable to take on the battle. They are all about doing what is needed to keep their Marines safe also.

Here is a simple idea on how to ensure this and this is one where when I read it went, " Well duh !! Why didn't I think of that???" Great job USMC. I hope that all others who go into combat wearing ballistic vest have them checked the same way.

The story cites a 5% failure rate of the 40000 vests they have checked already.....That means there are 2000 Marines who are safer for this intelligent idea being put into place, especially when we have Marines in the most dangerous places like Afghanistan.....SEMPER FI !

Marine Corps using X-rays to inspect armor
By James K. Sanborn, Marine Corps Times

The Marine Corps has a new tool to identify life-threatening flaws in body armor: X-ray machines.

An X-ray can reveal hairline cracks in armor that, in worst-case scenarios, can allow projectiles to penetrate vests and injure or kill Marines, Marine officials said.

Marines typically test plates using what's called a torque test, in which you grab catty-corner edges of the plate and twist as hard as you can. If you hear crunching or grinding, it's the tell-tale sign of a crack.

But the method doesn't catch everything; X-rays are more accurate, said Master Sgt. Mateo Mathis, operations chief at Program Manager Infantry Combat Equipment in Quantico, Va.

The Corps began scanning plates in January and is in a catch-up phase, attempting to scan all plates in its inventory.

So far, 40,000 plates have been scanned. About 5 percent of the ceramic plates, designed to stop a 7.62mm armor-piercing round, have been found to have cracks, Mathis said.

Testing the inventory should take until October, Mathis said, as plates downrange won't be scanned until Marines return home. Moving forward, plates will be scanned when they are received from manufacturers and again each time they return from a deployment or change hands.

In testing, plates on a conveyor belt are X-rayed and analysis is available immediately.

"If you are looking at a nice, dark image, and there is a long line that is white, we know that is a crack," said Danny Rivera, a member of the Infantry Combat Equipment Training Team who operates an X-ray machine at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

The Marine Corps has five X-ray scanners, which cost about $500,000 each. Other bases with scanners, which can check 240 pieces of body armor per hour, are Camp Pendleton, Calif.; Okinawa, Japan; Hawaii and Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif. There are plans to install a sixth in Virginia, at a facility near Norfolk.

Rivera said Marines should still check their plates regularly while deployed or in the field.

"We do encourage them every time they get a chance to pull out the plate and do a torque test and go around pinching the edges to verify the plate because … there is not a machine they can turn around to, to get their plate scanned," Rivera said.

Plates are more easily damaged than many Marines realize, said Carlos Jaramillo, also with the ICE training team at Lejeune.

"Since it protects against rounds, a lot of Marines think they can just throw it wherever, and it is going to be OK," Jaramillo said. "But since they are made of ceramics, if the plate is dropped from 2- or 3-feet high, it could crack."

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