System used to develop standard for ensuring safety, confidence and reliability of Air Force body armor plates

  • Published
  • By Business and Enterprise Systems Directorate

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, GUNTER ANNEX, Ala. – Imagine going downrange, away from friends and family, seemingly a million miles from home, when you are tasked for an ‘outside the wire’ mission.  Immediately, things go sideways, and your unit is ambushed by an opposing force.  Your primary defense from the rounds flying your way is the vest full of body armor plates you’re wearing around your torso.  How do you know that those plates are reliable?  How does the Department of the Air Force know the plates are reliable? 
These are not simple questions to answer.  The body armor plates in those vests are comprised of high-grade boron carbide ceramic materials.  In almost all cases, flaws and/or cracks in the plates affecting serviceability are not visually or otherwise detectable by Airmen, rather, unserviceable plates are only detectable via Non-Destructive Test and Evaluation (NDTE) X-ray testing. 
The U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) has the X-ray equipment and trained personnel to conduct NDTE tests, and in fact, Department of the Air Force Mobility asset management sites have independently contracted with Army TACOM to provide those testing services for a number of years. 
However, during those years, the Air Force did not have a standardized, Information Technology (IT)—supported enterprise business process for capturing and applying the outcomes of Army TACOM NDTE plate tests.  As a result, NDTE test outcomes for body armor plates were not applied uniformly across Air Force Mobility asset management sites in a way that fully met Air Force functional requirements—a key impediment to mission readiness. 
To develop a uniform standard, the Air Force needed to develop an enterprise NDTE inspection process, coordinate that enterprise process with Army TACOM NDTE inspection personnel, and then implement that process into an IT system that can be accessed by Air Force Mobility asset managers and Army NDTE inspection personnel. 
To achieve those objectives, PEO BES Enterprise Logistics Readiness Portfolio Integrated Logistics Systems-Supply (ILS-S) Capability Delivery Team (CDT) captured, documented, and coordinated the functional requirements and developed, tested and fielded a modification to the ILS-S application. 
ILS-S is a modern Logistics Information Technology Defense Business System capability that supports Air Force active-duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve operations, as well as sister services and their missions depending on where they are located.   This upgrade to ILS-S delivered the comprehensive enterprise NDTE asset management capabilities required to assure all body armor plates are tested and managed as needed to ensure Airman’s safety and confidence in the serviceability of body armor plates. 
To deliver this new capability, the ILS-S CDT had to first work with Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command defense materiel disposal subject matter experts to fully understand and document the requirements.  After that, the ILS-S CDT met with the Army TACOM staff to determine how ILS-S would interface with the Army NDTE Automated Inspection System to obtain the NDTE inspection outcome records for each Air Force serial numbered body armor plate inspected.  Once those requirements were coordinated, the ILS-S CDT worked with their software development team to update the ILS-S software as needed to implement the new capability requirements. 
The ILS-S CDT successfully fielded the new capability in the fall of 2021.  The CDT’s functional team has since documented the new capability in the ILS-S user’s manual and travelled to the Army TACOM NDTE Inspection activity in Lexington, Kentucky to train our new Army TACOM partners in the use of the ILS-S capability. 
The ILS-S NDTE capability is being incrementally rolled out across all active-duty Air Force Mobility asset management sites in Calendar Year 2022.  The new ILS-S NDTE inspection capability will significantly improve Air Force body armor plate inspection process in a way that improves mission capabilities, enables and maintains positive control of critical assets, and most importantly, protects our Airmen who are deployed into potentially dangerous situations.
“This is another PEO BES and ILS-S good news story that provides insight for how we are continuously innovating to enhance Department of the Air Force mission readiness while driving down operational costs,” said Herbert H. Hunter Jr., the portfolio manager of Enterprise Logistics Readiness within the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Business and Enterprise Systems Directorate.