USAF wants Fresno body armor maker banned from federal contracts
The Air Force Materiel Command recommended last week that the Air Force disallow a Fresno-based body armor manufacturer from signing new contracts with the U.S. government.
Air Force officials will review the AFMC recommendation against Pinnacle Armor Inc., with a decision expected within several weeks.
The AFMC recommendation is the latest in a string of controversies swirling around the quality of the firm's products. It also follows only days after the Air Force Office of Special Investigations announced a criminal investigation into allegations that the manufacturer falsely claimed its name-branded Dragon Skin vests met government standards when they did not.
Pinnacle has denied the allegations.
The investigation stems from an order from OSI for 590 Dragon Skin vests that were fielded with the agency between October 2005 and January 2006. The order, according to Air Force testimony before Congress this month, was based on Pinnacle literature and claims by the company.
Dragon Skin subsequently failed two tests conducted by the Air Force.
The Air Force issued orders to its personnel to stop using the vests in February 2006. In April 2006, the Air Force discovered that, contrary to Pinnacle claims, the vest had not been tested or certified to National Institute of Justice standards. The Air Force also alleges that the vests were falsely labeled to indicate a higher level of protection.
A May 2006 Army test showed that Pinnacle's Dragon Skin armor did not perform as well as the Army's armor of choice. During the test, the Air Force testified, the Dragon Skin vest suffered 13 of 48 first- or second-round shot complete penetrations, failing four of eight initial subtests.