Army Rolls Out Lightweight, High-Protection Next-Gen Helmets to 82nd Airborne Soldiers

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  • Army Rolls Out Lightweight, High-Protection Next-Gen Helmets to 82nd Airborne Soldiers

    On Tuesday, the Army made an official announcement that close-combat forces have started receiving the Next-Generation Integrated Head Protection System (NG-IHPS), their newest combat helmet.

    In 2018, the Integrated Head Protection System (IHPS) was announced to replace the Advanced Combat Helmet and Enhanced Combat Helmet. This new helmet, which is 40% lighter, claims to provide troops "increased ballistic and fragmentation protection" without sacrificing protection.

    As stated by Army Times, the first shipment of NG-IHPS units was distributed to over 2,000 troops from the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division on Monday.

    For complete protection from small-arms fire, the previous IHPS required an extra two-pound ballistic appliqué in addition to the three pounds it already weighed, which provided further protection against pistol bullets and fragmentation. That supposedly greater protection without the added weight is what the NG-IHPS is all about.

    In a news statement issued on Tuesday, the NG-IHPS was characterized as "world-leading rifle threat protection" by Maj. Matthew Nulk, the assistant program manager of the Program Executive Office Soldier's Head Protection Team.

    The Head Protection Team's senior engineer, Alex de Groot, credited the NG-IHPS's superior protection to its fabrication using lightweight polyethylene rather than the stiff Kevlar material. Unlike Kevlar, which shatters upon impact, polyethylene distributes the force.

    For troops in mounted formations, the NG-IHPS offers a redesigned retention and suspension system, a cover for the helmet, and a night-vision bracket that may be attached to a mandible protector. It also includes hearing protection.

    According to de Groot, the NG-IHPS provides better protection since the night-vision device bracket and boltless retention system install without affecting the helmet's integrity.

    The night-vision bracket of the helmet may be attached to high-tech heads-up displays such as the Integrated Visual Augmentation System and the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binocular, both of which are set to be extensively used by the Army in the near future.

    Soldier Protective Equipment product manager Lt. Col. Ken Elgort praised the NG-IHPS as a game-changer in protective gear, shielding soldiers from modern dangers while paving the way for future device integration.

    But how well the NG-IHPS does in battle is still up in the air. There has to be "additional testing" to determine how well the NG-IHPS protects against penetration threats and how it compares to earlier helmets, according to the Pentagon's top weapons tester in the fiscal 2023 evaluation.

    The NG-IHPS is scheduled to be distributed to other close-combat units over the following three years after being equipped with the 82nd Airborne's 2nd and 3rd Brigade Combat Teams this quarter.

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