FRAG Kit 5 armor shortage in Iraq

Many Army Humvees lack armor upgrade

The recent dramatic increase in the number of explosively formed penetrator (EFP) bombs being set in Iraq has led to a scramble to upgrade armored Humvees with what’s known as FRAG Kit 5 armor:

Shiite forces in recent months have stepped up their targeting of U.S. soldiers in Baghdad with sophisticated EFPs, described by one official as like “a spear that rips right through the vehicle.”

The penetrator, a heavy, metal projectile, is propelled by an explosive and strikes with enough speed and power to shatter the relatively brittle, “high hard” steel of up-armored Humvees, creating what experts call “behind armor debris (BAD)” — essentially, turning pieces of the vehicle into shrapnel. The new armor kit is designed with more flexible materials that slow down the projectile and contain the debris, limiting the damage to that caused directly by the EFP.

Current up-armored doors and side armor is replaced with new rolled homogeneous armor at a weight increase of 760 pounds.

What’s important to keep in mind about this latest “armor shortage” is that troops aren’t in unprotected vehicles waiting for armor to arrive. They’re in armored Humvees, just not all are equipped with the latest and greatest armor. While this should be addressed ASAP, it’s certainly not anything like the vehicle and body armor shortages that cost us lives in the early months of the insurgency.