Enhanced Combat Helmet (ECH)To Be Available ‘Soon’. New date is perhaps May or June 2012??
There is light glimmering at the end of the tunnel but we’re not dancing for joy until we are certain it’s not another trainwreck in the long history of promises that have not come to pass. The company that makes them, Ceradyne, still has no idea which helmet pads will be sent for inclusion with the helmet…hope it’s not the same shrink-wrapped rocks currently in vogue (6 March, 2010)
The military has finally accepted our premise that the current GI helmet pads detract from both mission performance as well as blast-wave protection. The Army and Marines have announced a new ECH…enhanced combat helmet…complete with helmet pads offering both wearability (comfort) as well as protection that will hopefully be available for distribution beginning in October of this year. However, even if the new helmets are put ‘on line’ in October, it will takes months for them to reach all our troops in the hinterlands in which they struggle, so the need for current helmet pad upgrades will continue for months to come. It takes about 10-14 days for the helmet pad upgrades we send to reach troops in their outposts, courtesy of the Armed Forces mail system we utilize. The military supply system can take weeks or months.
UPDATE: The ‘model’ ECH helmet submitted for testing withstood ballistic testing. When the company started production, the helmets failed the same test. Back to the drawing boards.
FOLLOWUP: I spoke with the President of Ceradyne Armor Systems, Marc King. He explained the problems and misunderstanding that arose about the heat and de-gassing of their Enhanced Combat Helmets causing them to fail ballistic back-face deformation tests subsequent to their ‘model’ helmet’s passing same. He assured me the problems have been solved and helmet production will ramp up this summer once repeat FAT (First Article Testing—shooting the sumbitch) has been repeated.
Once approval for resuming production using a modified paint drying technique, NIB, as usual, will tell them which pads and retention harness (different ones for each, Army and Marine Corps) to put in the helmet, a matter over which Ceradyne has NO control. They just make the helmet, slap in the pads, screw in the retention system and send the ‘helmet system’ along to the military. Marc King has heard the same complaints we get about the current helmet pads, but reiterated they had no control over what they put in their helmets, just what was sent by NIB/Military.
It took us seven years of standing up for the troops to get ‘official’ attention, but every second so spent is worth it for the lives and futures saved. We are grateful to all who have helped focus Congressional attention on what our warriors ask for, deserve and need. Head armor MUST be both protective and wearable in combat!
Better equipment is on the way…we hope. In the meantime, we continue to field requests from warriors in Afghanistan for the helmet pads that help in better performing their dangerous missions, with a strong motivation as
3 October, 2011: The Marines have developed a head form with holes and ‘triggers’ sticking through to measure helmet system (helmet plus pads) pressure points. Seems like a good idea, but only works if all Marines heads exactly duplicate the head-form…and that ain’t gonna happen. Any deviations from the slick head form will create ‘normal’ skull projections that will wind up bearing the weight of the helmet unless the helmet pads conform enough to allow the helmet to ‘sink’ and adjacent pads share the load.
Heraclitus (0570 AD) said it centuries ago: of every 100 men in combat, ten shouldn’t even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.”