September 4, 2005
The U.S. Army is starting to distribute the new ACH (Advanced Combat Helmet) head gear on a wide scale, and expects the ACH to have replaced all the current PASGT helmets by the end of the decade. The PASGT (Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops), was introduced in the early 1980s. This Kevlar design was a third generation combat helmet, and nicknamed the Fritz, after its resemblance to the German helmets used in both World Wars. The German World War I design, which was based on an analysis of where troops were being hit by fragments and bullets in combat, was the most successful combat helmet in that war. This basic design was little changed during World War II, and finally adopted by many other nations after the American Kevlar helmet appeared in the 1980s. Most of the second generation helmets, which appeared largely during World War II, were similar to the old American steel pot design. The fourth generation helmets, currently appearing, use better synthetic materials and more comfortable design. The PASGT came in five sizes, and weighed between 3.1 pounds (size Extra Small) to 4.2 pounds (size Extra Large). The new ACH weighs a third less than the PASGT, and uses a new type of Kevlar that provides more protection. The ACH will stop a 9mm bullet at close range, and rifle bullets at longer ranges. The ACH is smaller, and does not cover as much of the neck. This was important, because the newer protective vests (like the bullet-proof Interceptor) ride high on the back, thus becoming very uncomfortable when the soldier is prone and trying to fire his rifle. The ACH eliminates this problem. The ACH was first developed as a special project by the U.S. Army Special Forces, and was so successful that the rest of the army began buying them.