The U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center is testing out what could be the next generation of protective headgear.
Developed by Revision Military, a company known for ballistic eyewear, this new modular helmet system was designed for the Helmet Electronics and Display System-Upgradeable Protection (HEaDS-UP) program.
Although the helmet bears a striking resemblance to the kind worn in popular combat warfare game, Halo, suppliers say this is a coincidence.
“I think military industrial designers and the entertainment industry look to each other for inspiration but this product was not modelled after HALO,” Revision marketing communications manager Jennifer Zimmerman said.
The HEaDS-UP system closely compares to Revision Military’s readily available Batlskin Head Protection System, which costs between $US1,600 — $US2,000. The U.S. Army had some specifications, however, after receiving high head trauma and injury reports from troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“It was specifically designed to help reduce the number and degree of facial injuries coming out of current conflict zones. System weight, human factors, and integration with other equipment were among the primary design concerns in developing this system,” Zimmerman said.
Revision’s helmet provides the following features (as specified in the Army contract):
- Increase protection: A standard Army helmet can withstand a pistol round but now these helmets can take a rifle round. The helmet now covers the lower jaw and neck which are unprotected by current helmets and easy, exposed targets for enemy fire.
- Reduce brain injury: An adjustable air liner inside the helmet can be pumped up like a Nike sneaker to provide an ‘air bag like’ cushion around a soldier’s head.
- Integrate electronics: A ‘HEaDS-UP display (similar to Google glass) can be flipped down in front of a soldier’s eyeball to give mission status updates, battlefield maps, GPS locations of squadron leader, Medevac, etc … Basically, updating, integrating and enhancing the already developed ‘Land Warrior System‘.
Approximately 266,000 military members experienced a traumatic brain injury in the last 12 years according to military research organisation, BrainLine Military. Noted as the ‘signature wound’ of the Iraq War, traumatic brain injuries are caused by bullets or shrapnel striking the head or neck; blast from improvised explosive device (IED); blast from mortar attacks; and closed head wounds.
Director of Soldier Systems at Revision, Richard Coomber, explains the nature of modern warfare in the Middle East and why this updated gear is in high demand:
“You don’t really know whether the job you’re gonna be doing is going to be high intensity warfare, whether its going to be crowd control or whether its going to be humanitarian work … A solider never does one thing. A soldier has to be flexible enough in his training mentally and physically and with his equipment, to be able to rapidly move between these various scenarios.”
Revision’s head system starts with a standard Army helmet that can be modified for each mission.
“A soldier might not always need or want to wear full facial protection, components can be added and removed when needed,” Zimmerman said.
This design is essentially a ‘2-in-1’ since a mounted soldier wears a Combat Vehicle Crewmen (CVC) helmet and a dismounted soldier wears a Army Combat helmet.
“We take the standards of today’s helmet and make them lighter, integrate electronics and upgrade the protection. There is no need to waste time switching helmets,” Brian Dowling, Revision Soldier Systems Program Manager said.
Below are some pictures and videos of the helmet:
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