The Army's Next-Generation Combat Helmet Has Arrived

The Army has completed a significant overhaul of its Interceptor Multi-Threat Body Armor System in the last several years and will field the first batch of next-generation helmets and protective gear beginning with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division this month, according to a new report from Military.com.

"Our next-generation helmet -- the [Integrated] Head Protection System -- it has a 100% greater blunt impact protection over the ... Enhanced Combat Helmet," Lt. Col. Ginger Whitehead, product manager for Soldier Protective Equipment, said.

The infantryman from the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, an infantry brigade based at Fort Knox, Kentucky, will receive the new Integrated Head Protection System (IHPS), along with the Soldier Protection System, such as the Modular Scalable Vest and Blast Pelvic Protector, said Col. Steven Thomas, project manager for Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment.

The new helmet, manufactured by Ceradyne Inc., utilizes advanced thermoplastic aramid and glass fabric composites, which provides better protection against a 7.62 Russian rifle round than legacy helmets and increases the amount of protection against high impact or trauma to a soldier's head, according to Alex DeGroot, lead engineer for head protection.

"It's less force on the brain; it's a tremendous increase for us," DeGroot said. "It's actually one of the things that makes this helmet considerably better than the current [helmet]."

Whitehead said the fewer holes drilled into the helmet means better overall protection from high impacts.

The new helmet features a boltless retention system, which eliminates two holes on either side of the helmet, that the chin-strap assembly would be attached with special bolts, Whitehead said. The new helmet has just one hole in the front to attach the night-vision mount.

"The challenge with drilling holes in the helmet is that you weaken the material," she said. "With this new helmet, we have gotten rid of the four holes drilled in the side."

Whitehead added that each side of the helmet features removable side rails so that infantryman can mount tactical lights and headsets.

"You need the flexibility to have accessories on the helmet, particularly at night," Whitehead said.

In addition to the IHPS, infantryman will receive the new Modular Scalable Vest and the Blast Pelvic Protector.

The Modular Scalable Vest weighs 11 pounds, based on a medium-size vest without ballistic plates. Fully equipped, the vest weighs 25 pounds, which is about five pounds lighter than current vests.

The new helmet and vest have undergone thorough testing among Army units over the last several years. This is all part of a modernization effort by the Pentagon to field infantryman with new body armor that can withstand a 7.62 round, traditionally used by Russia and China.