rounds the body armor was designed to defeat. Owing to the limited basis for the Prather work, however, essential trade-offs of protection with weight are unknown. At the present time and for the next few years this methodology needs to be retained and the incremental improvements and refinements over the past three decades need to continue until an acceptable alternative method can be introduced for both development and testing of new armor for realistic threats.

Finding: The committee finds that the current body armor testing methodology that has evolved from the early work of Prather et al. (1977) should be retained and improved on while investigating alternative methods.

Synopsis of Near-Term Improvements

Chapter 3 concluded with a summary of strengths and weaknesses of the Prather approach, which is repeated here as Table 9-1. The committee focused on retaining the strengths while providing insights into overcoming the weaknesses.

TABLE 9-1 Strengths and Weaknesses of the Prather Methodology


Ease of use

Immediate results

Relatively low cost

Large historical database of results

Apparent success in field for soft body armor

Apparent success in field for hard body armor
Clay constituents have changed considerably since original study

Clay variability (handling, thixotropy, temperature effects, etc.)

Current methodology requires elevated clay temperatures

All variability in testing results is assumed to be design flaws in the armor

Method has limited medical validation for soft body armor

Method has no medical validation for hard body armor

Pass/fail criterion

In Chapter 4 the report discussed and provided findings and recommendations for mitigating the weaknesses associated with the variability of clay and its formulations, especially important for production testing. The road map of the Chapter 4 findings and

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