The US Air Force Security Forces Center has started delivering the next generation of ballistic helmets to security forces units as part of its effort to standardize and modernize defender equipment across the service.
The helmets will replace the advanced combat helmet, which security forces airmen had to modify and outfit with bulky additions to accomplish different mission sets, said Master Sgt. Markus Nelson, an AFSFC individual equipment manager.
“Defenders perform a variety of duties around the globe, anything from guarding bases in combat environments to protecting nuclear armament,” he said. “In alignment with the Security Forces Enterprise Plan, we had to find a solution to have one standard helmet that would keep all security forces defenders lethal and ready, no matter the task.”
The new helmet is lighter, cooler, has better padding and comes with a built-in railing to fit accessories, such as night vision goggles and tactical communication equipment, Nelson said.
The 71st Security Forces Squadron at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma, was the first unit to receive the new helmets and took no time to strap them on.
“It is actually really quick to put on and easily adjustable, allowing me more time to check my airmen and make sure everyone’s gear is on straight,” said Senior Airman Craig Smith, a 71st SFS Airman. “The biggest improvement I noticed is it’s lightweight and if I take a hard turn in a Humvee, I know I’m not going to break my neck.”
Master Sgt. Darryl Wright, 71st SFS logistics and readiness superintendent, said this is the most agile helmet he’s worn in 19 years as a defender.
“I just got back from a deployment and this helmet is made for hot areas like that; and even where it’s not as hot, the mobility and light weight of the helmet makes a significant difference in what you can do,” Wright said. “Even back here at home when we do readiness exercises, we bring all our fighting gear, including the helmet. Exercises get you prepared for the fight and having next generation gear like this helmet improves Vance (AFB’s) security readiness.”
The helmets are part of the AFSFC initiative to modernize weapon systems, individual protective gear, contingency support equipment and deployable communications systems. Those include the M18 modular handgun system, M4A1 assault rifle, M110A1 semi-automatic precision engagement rifle, M320A1 grenade launcher, modular scalable vest and female body armor.