Guest Author - Ray Hanisco
The U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Army joined together to acquire a supply of 77,000 Enhanced Combat Helmets. The awarding of the contract to Ceradyne Inc., a 3M subsidiary, was announced on September 10, 2013. Ceradyne is considered one of the worldwide leaders in advanced technical ceramic products, and the testing of the improved headgear has met or exceeded the new requirements outlined by the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation protocols.
Some of the features of the new helmets are:
*Seamless BallisticTM Helmet utilizing Thermoplastic Composite technologies for molding.
*Multi-layered laminations without folds, creases, or darts for uniform thickness and increased protection.
*Thermoplastic Composites demonstrate superior ballistics protection, yet allows for rapid manufacture.
*Shows an average of 50% improved ballistic protection over the current helmet in use.
*Approximately the same weight as the current helmet.
*Infantry Combat Equipment compatible without any modifications required.
*Multi-operational environment compatible without compromising the integrity of the composite materials with reduced wear.
* Well-matched to other Infantry components like the body armor system, night vision equipment, protective goggles, and camouflage fabric helmet covers.
The new Enhanced Combat Helmet has passed all the extensive testing requirements of the coordinated collaboration between the U.S. Marine Corps and the Army. It has demonstrated the kind of ballistic and fragmentation protection that surpasses any helmet in the history of warfare to date.
The $80 million (USD) contract that was awarded to Ceradyne Inc. is not only for the 77,000 new helmets, but also for associated spare parts. This should put the cost to the military in the neighborhood of $900 to $1,000 per helmet. This is a reasonable cost to protect our military combat personnel.
Mark Colin, vice president and general manager of the 3M Advanced Ceramics Platform, is quoted, in the 3M Public Company Information sheet, as saying, “3M is pleased to win this significant contract. We have the scientific know-how to supply our U.S. forces with the best helmets on the market to protect the lives of our warriors.”
It was reported that Ceradyne has begun production of the newly-designed, Enhanced Combat Helmets. Projections indicate that delivery will begin to the U.S. Marine Corps in the fall of 2013. Our troops can expect field deployment of the new helmets in the first fiscal quarter of 2014. We should also be reminded that 3M and their subsidiaries also provide combat hearing and respiratory protection, body armor and communications systems for the U.S. Armed Forces.
The face of warfare is evolving at an alarming rate. To those Veterans who served in our Armed Forces 40 to 45 years ago, these changes seem almost incomprehensible, and it makes those who are currently serving appreciated all the more. Let us be thankful for the advances in modern warfare and say a prayer to keep our men and women safe in the service of our nation.