US Army set for new lightweight combat helmet

The U.S. Army is planning to deploy a combat helmet that is 22 percent lighter than the current helmet used by soldiers.

Announced on Monday, the Advanced Combat Helmet (ACH) Generation II is said to weigh less and provide the same amount of protection, according to the Army.

The helmet uses ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene, which is a lighter material than Kevlar. In addition, the Army says that the new helmet can stop rounds from a 9mm handgun as well as shell fragments.

A contract for up to $98 million to develop the helmets over the next five years was awarded to Revision Military, located in Vermont.

“With a renewed focus on research and development, our goal is a revolutionary leap in technology for personal protective equipment in the future, said Lt. Col. Kathy M. Brown, product manager for soldier protective equipment, in a press release.

While the helmet’s weight depends upon its size, the Army said a large helmet will weigh under 2.5 pounds, roughly 12 ounces less than the current ACH in use.

The helmet is part of an Army initiative to modernize its equipment and lighten the loads for soldiers and vehicles in combat. One finished product, slated to be fielded in 2020, will involve an integrated head protection system consisting of a helmet, visor, mandible for the lower jaw and a “ballistic applique” that is attached over the helmet, according to the Army.

The Army is also developing body armor that fits its smaller soldiers and women better, and exploring lighter next-generation tanks.

Brig. Gen. Robert L. Marion, deputy of acquisition and systems management for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, noted that the new body armor has, “The same level or greater protection for up to 26 percent less weight.”