Science

World’s Best Combat Helmet to be Issued to Every US Marine

By | Jun 13, 2017 09:39 AM EDT
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The best

Enhanced Combat Helmet for the U.S. Marines from Gentex Corporation. (Photo : USMC)

The U.S. Marine Corps, the armed service that will do battle against the People's Liberation Army Navy Marine Corps in any conflict over the South China Sea, will equip all its fighting men with what is probably the best combat helmet in the world.

Every Marine will receive an Enhanced Combat Helmet (ECH), the combat helmet that provides the most ballistic protection beyond any other helmet used by the United States Armed Forces.

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The Marines and the U.S. Army lead the program to replace the combat helmets of the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines with the much superior ECH.

This helmet is made from thermoplastics instead of ballistic fibers such as Kevlar used on the current generation combat helmets.

The helmet's shell is made of an ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene material. It offers 35 percent better protection against small-arms fire and fragmentation than the Advanced Combat Helmet (ACH) it will replace.

Repeated tests have shown the ECH to be nearly impenetrable to rounds fired by test rifles. The helmet's design allows for the addition of devices such as communications and night-vision equipment. The Marines plan to buy 77,000 helmets.

ECH weighs about the same as the standard ACH but provides increased protection and is capable of stopping rifle rounds and fragmentation.

It consists of a ballistic shell; suspension pads and four-point retention system. In addition to those components, a reversible helmet cover; night vision goggle bracket and attachment hardware will be provided.

"The ECH is the helmet of the future Marine," said Maj. John Draper, ECH project officer.

"It's important for Marines to train with the same gear they will bring into combat."

Today, Marines are only issued the ECH when they prepare for deployment but a new $51 million contract awarded by Marine Corps Systems Command to Gentex Corporation will provide the ECH to every Marine.

This purchase will also enable Marines to use the helmet during training, removing the need to trade helmets before and after deployments.

"Right now, we have three helmets fielded, but the future vision is a single helmet for all operating forces, which greatly simplifies logistics considerations and increases cost savings," said Nick Pierce, team lead, Body Armor and Load Bearing Equipment.


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