As modern weaponry has advanced over the decades, the need to improve the protection that soldiers wear into battle has required advancement as well. Although the helmet is one of the oldest forms of personal protection in the world, modern versions such as the PASGT helmet and the MICH helmet have changed so dramatically that an ancient Roman soldier wouldn't be able to recognize them.
Since World War I, the dramatic advancements in the way that wars are fought have seen new and even deadlier weapons introduced to the battlefield. In the interest of protecting the soldiers who defend freedom around the world, new and ever more advanced helmet options have been created.
Ballistic Helmet Stylistic Differences
The Spectra design was one of the first modern helmets. Created specifically to protect the wearer's head from impacts by shrapnel, it is not by itself a bullet proof material. It is, however, where all modern bullet proof helmets have their beginnings. Originally used by the United Nations peacekeeping forces, they were traditionally painted sky blue and had little accessory options.
From these humble roots sprang the most modern styles of ballistic helmets. The Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops helmet, lovingly called the PASGT helmet by most, is a Kevlar and Spectra composite construction that traditionally has 19 separate layers of bullet protection. The PASGT helmet has a level IIIA protection rating against both shrapnel and ballistics. It is designed to partially cover the wearer's ears.
The Modular Integrated Communications helmet, commonly called the MICH helmet, was the next step in helmet design. It is generally a Kevlar only creation with a level IIIA protection rating. The MICH helmet is specifically designed to withstand the 9mm and 44 MAG bullets, as well as blunt force attacks. It provides a little more room around the wearer's ears for communications devices to be used with it. Original design specifications included a brim and a lower cut, but modern styles have done away with these for a smoother, easier to wear user experience.
The most modern ballistics helmets are designed to go around the ears, providing protection to the back of the head but not blocking the soldier's ability to hear. They are usually constructed from Aramid, PE, or carbon fiber composites, but hybrid options are available if the user prefers. They are light in weight, and offer all of the spacial awareness that the modern defender needs due to its reduced profile construction.
Ballistic Helmet Padding and Strapping Systems
The PASGT helmet has a series of 7 customizable padding straps along the interior, including the top of the helmet and a full circle of padding inside. The straps come down on either side of the ear and secure around the chin with a protective cup, and feature a sweatband on the interior of the unit.
The MICH helmet offers the wearer a seven pad customizable system for comfort while in use. The strapping system is a four point design, attaching in front of the ears and the back of the head. A padding area prevents the straps from irritating the back of the neck. It snaps in place under the chin, rather than relying on the chin for support.
Modern ballistic helmet styles feature a fully integrated padding system on the interior, designed to cushion the wearer's head against any blows received. Extra cushioning is commonly featured around the ears and the back of the head, providing extra protection in these critical areas.
Ballistic Helmet Mounts and Accessories
The PASGT helmet is designed to be worn with visors, face shields and gas masks, but feature no common snap on mounts in the original design. The modern design is used mostly for peace keeping and law enforcement agencies.
The MICH helmet is designed to be compatible with all types of gas masks currently on the market. It features standard NVG mounting options for the VAS Universal Shroud, along with 1 hole, 2-hole and 3-hole mounting equipment.
Modern ballistic helmets feature a full attachment array for the professional to use in the field. The common Picatinny rail over either ear provides fully adjustable mounting options for the soldier. A fully universal NVG mount on the helmet's front is another common offer for additional mounting options.