The helmet is an essential piece of gear that protects our troops, but such protection doesn't come without heft. Even with sophisticated technologies and materials, today's Modular Integrated Communications Helmet weighs a little over three and a half pounds. That might not sound like much to a reader at home, but when you add on night-vision goggles and a radio, it quickly becomes quite the load for the average soldier to carry on their noggin.
That said, relief may be on the horizon. DuPont, a science company responsible for the development of many advanced materials, announced in a press release that it will be introducing a new, lightweight, synthetic fiber that could lighten helmets by up to 40 percent. The new fiber is known as Tensylon® HA120.
Here is a look at how Tensylon will be used to lighten helmets.
"Innovation is a continuous process at DuPont," said John Richard, vice president and general manager of DuPont Kevlar® and Nomex®.
"We're constantly looking for new solutions that are stronger, lighter, and more comfortable for the men and women protecting us. They deserve the best protection, so they can stay focused on the high-risk job of safeguarding their communities and their countries."
The helmet is designed to provide what DuPont calls, "optimum ballistic properties and impact resistance" through the use of a "Tensylon® solid state extruded ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) film technology." This will not only provide greater protection from bullets, but it will also reduce the threat from "back face deflection" — which is when an impact dislodges another portion of the armor, striking the wearer at a point opposite to the initial impact.
These Marines from the First Marine Special Operations Battalion could be among troops who benefit from lighter helmets.
(DOD photo by Staff Sgt. Robert Storm)
There's still a long way to go before this new technology lands in the hands (or on the heads) of troops. Still, it's a good sign. In an era where troops are constantly expected to tack on a few pounds here, a few ounces there, a lightened load is a welcome relief.