Infantry: The 21st Century Helmet


July 30, 2009: The Netherlands is developing an advanced modular combat helmet for issue to its soldiers as part of a comprehensive program called Project Voss  ("Improved Operational Soldiers’ System"), a counterpart to the U.S Land Warrior system.                    Known as ‘Galea’, (Roman for helmet,) the design features a standard aramid (Kevlar) shell with an improved fit, more protection, and at half the weight (1100 grams, or 2.4 pounds) of the current helmet, which has been in use since the 1990’s. Among its innovations are detachable side panels, allowing the wearing of communication equipment, and attachable ear, neck, and jaw pieces enabling complete coverage for the face while cancelling out high sound levels. Other features include an ergonomic mount for Night Vision Devices with the possibility of an air conditioning system when utilizing the complete coverage option.

Modularity features of the helmet came after a survey of 500 soldiers. The troops requested an ability to wear hearing as well as eye protection even if not wearing a helmet. As an extra benefit, when patrolling in populated areas the removal of panels enable the helmet to attain a ‘less aggressive’ shape, providing a more sympathetic silhouette without intimidating the local civilians.

So innovative is the design that it recently received an award for such at a trade show in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Yet, the Dutch will continue to seek improvements as testing continues. If all trials successful, the helmet will be issued service wide to the Dutch Army in 2011.

The United States has a similar albeit less advanced design called the F.A.S.T. (Future Assault Shell Technology) helmet in use by Special Operations. -- Mike Perry



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