Report Lists Problems With Defective Prisoner-Made Combat Helmets

Deformities and manufacturing problems prompted the government to recall nearly 130,000 combat helmets produced by federal prisoners for the military in recent years, according to a newly released report.

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Deformities and manufacturing problems prompted the government to recall nearly 130,000 combat helmets produced by federal prisoners for the military in recent years, according to a newly released report.

The investigation by the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General also found that about 44,000 of the defective helmets were used by troops in Afghanistan, ABC News reported, but that no deaths or injuries were attributed to the faulty equipment.

The helmets were manufactured by Federal Prison Industries, a government-owned entity that pays federal inmates for labor and provides skills training, between 2006 and 2009.

Although FPI is owned by the government, it built more than 126,000 Army advanced combat helmets in its capacity as a subcontractor for ArmorSource LLC, which received a $30.3 million contract for the helmets.

They were recalled in 2010 after failed ballistics tests and a subsequent government investigation.


FPI also received a $23 million contract to produce 23,000 lightweight Marine Corps helmets; problems led to a recall of those helmets after a shipment of just 3,000.

The DOJ report identified a slew of problems with the materials and methods used to make the helmets, as well as improper oversight and inspection practices.

In particular, the findings showed that workers improperly used Kevlar dust to fill the helmets and used improvised tools -- an obvious security risk -- during production.

"Both investigations determined that FPI had endemic manufacturing problems at FCI Beaumont, and that both the ACH and LMCH were defective and not manufactured in accordance with contract specifications," the report said.

ArmorSource earlier this year agreed to pay $3 million to settle alleged government contract violations.

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