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Public Affairs Office title

U.S. Army Soldier & Biological Chemical Command
U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick
Public Affairs Office
Kansas Street
Natick, MA 01760-5012

Contact: Chief, Public Affairs Office
(508) 233-5340

Date: January 11, 2002
No: 02-03

Award recognizes achievement

Natick, Mass. --- Two Natick employees were among the four recipients of the third annual Defense Manufacturing Technology Achievement Award in a ceremony at the Pentagon Dec. 7.

James Mackiewicz and Janice Knowlton, U.S. Army Natick Soldier Center, Natick, Mass.; Robert Monks, Simula Safety Systems Inc., Phoenix, Ariz.; and Richard Palicka, CERCOM Inc., Vista, Calif., were awarded for the ManTech project "Enhanced Manufacturing Processes for Body Armor Materials."

The Manufacturing Technology program (ManTech) strives to achieve a world-class manufacturing capability to affordably meet the warfighters' needs throughout the defense system life cycle. This annual award recognizes individuals responsible for outstanding technical accomplishments that help to realize this goal.

The project identified, developed and implemented several economical production processes for two ceramic armor materials used in protective armor plates.

Ranger Body Armor previously offered the only plated ballistic protection, but the limited-production item was much heavier than the new boron carbide and siliconized silicon carbide plates, said Mackiewicz, project officer for the Interceptor Body Armor Small Arms Protective Insert.

"Thanks to the dedicated and outstanding efforts of the award-winning team, the soldiers and Marines who may be in harm's way participating in Operation Enduring Freedom will be wearing the best ballistic protection available in the world today," said Ronald M. Sega, director for Defense Research and Engineering.

The current Interceptor Body Armor vest can stop fragments and more. Because of the work of this team and the success of this ManTech project, two highly effective, lightweight ceramic armor materials vastly enhance the Interceptor's capabilities.

Siliconized silicon carbide and boron carbide plates that provide greater protection, impossible with this vest in the past, are now available to insert in the vest's pockets.

The new armor plates weigh about half as much as the traditional 8-pound plates, and average cost per plate has dropped from $850 to $350.

The plates can be manufactured at a high volume. Simula, with a current production capacity of 5,500 plates per month, has already delivered 45,000 of its siliconized silicon carbide plates and is under contract to deliver 140,000 more. About 12,000 of CERCOM's boron carbide plates have also been fielded.

Through the next 10 years, the nearly $1.5 million program is expected to bring a cost avoidance of $193 million for the Army and Marine Corps.

"It's great as an individual award, but it's better to be doing more for the individual soldier and Marine. It's good to know you're doing your part to support them," said Mackiewicz.

It was the first time Natick has submitted a nomination for the award and notable because of the project's size, with resources drawn from the Army, Marine Corps and ManTech.

"It shows we can do a lot with a comparatively small amount of money," said Knowlton, SBCCOM ManTech coordinator.

Natick is part of the U.S. Army Soldier and Biological Chemical Command (SBCCOM). For more information regarding SBCCOM or the Soldier Systems Center (Natick), please visit our website at http://www.sbccom.army.mil.


This page last updated on 14 January 2002

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