Improvised explosive devices are one of the biggest threats to soldiers in Afghanistan and across the world. They unleash a shock wave that can travel about 1,000 feet per second and hit with a pressure of 100 pounds per square inch. The U.S. Army's standard-issue Kevlar combat helmet absorbs some of that force, but it isn't designed to protect the soldier's face from shock waves, which studies suggest can pass through the eyes, nose and mouth to the brain. Nor does it prevent a soldier's head from jerking around, which can cause brain damage. Fortunately, Army researchers are exploring new designs that could someday protect troops from these hazards.
Helmets of the future will probably enclose the head for better protection, says Kenneth Curley, the physician coordinating the Army's neurotrauma research while keeping tabs on other teams. Adding a face shield to combat helmets would cut about 80 percent of the pressure on the front of the brain, according to a software blast model published by Massachusetts Institute of Technology aeronautical engineer Raúl Radovitzky and his colleagues. Don Lee, the project officer of the "HEaDS-UP" Army Technology Objective, is developing shields for the face and other helmet technologies, which should be ready for review by 2013.
Other researchers are working on a customized shoulder-mounted harness to protect the head from whipping forward or twisting sideways. An Army analysis concluded that a Nascar-style head-and-neck - system would restrict solders' vision too much, so Shawn Walsh of the Army Research Lab is designing one that won't inhibit movement or vision. A fully functional demonstration harness should be ready this winter.
Because many soldiers choose comfort over safety, Walsh will pay special attention to solders' complaints during testing. "Have you ever put on one of those costume Stormtrooper helmets?" Curley asks. "They're not very comfortable, and you can't see well or move your head around. We've got to strike a balance between practicality and the proper protection."
An updated version of the Land Warrior system already in use would show maps, locations of fellow soldiers and enemies, computer-aided weapons sighting and alerts from commanding officers.
Earbuds would automatically reduce sounds louder than 85 decibels to safe levels. A microphone would relay outgoing radio transmissions.
Face Shield and Integrated Mandible Protection
These guards deflect energy from a blast wave away from the eyes, nose and mouth.
The harness could support the added weight from the mask and prevent the head from snapping forward or side to side. The Army is also investigating a retractable option that would give full maneuverability when the harness isn't needed.
Thus, stormtroopers have been born.
I think they've been playing a little too much halo....
all kidding aside i love the look of this helmet. and it would be really imposing to have that helmet staring back at you when they're on patrol. if thats your goal, good job
Add a gas mask, and your set on the helmet.
agread, also id add in lights on it and solar power, plus the sunglasses glass that changes color depending on lighting and make them supper dupper bullet proof
may i add coffee making to the list.
Wow - none of the commentors are past-military, huh?
Anyone wearing a gas mask for real for longer than 20 minutes in 80+ degree environments learns that active cooling is a *MUST*.
Future helmets MAY be enclosed, but given the large odds of these being deployed in VERY warm-weather environs, active-cooling tech is a HUGE must-have.
The most likely 'face-shield' will be a half-shield - much like you see on Football (American) helmets with their clear or tinted visors, but an open bottom to allow for air circulation. This design would allow for HUD units, but not gas-mask or environmental filtering.
Speaking from a position of having actually worn the existing generation of kevlar helmets and military gas masks, I do have some concerns with this design.
First, for a gas mask to work, it must be sealed to your face. However, helmets are designed to move around a little bit, which is what provides some of the shock absorbtion. Coupling a moving helmet with a face mask that is sealed to your face presents a problem as the seal may either be too strong, preventing the helmet from moving and providing the necessary shock absorbtion, or the seal may be too weak, allowing the movement of the helmet to break the seal of the gas mask, allowing some potentially unwanted things in.
I also have concern with ventilation. With the current helmets you only put on the gas mask when there is gas, or at least a threat of gas. You don't wear it all the time. So normally, your face is exposed, allowing sweat to evaporate and cool your body. Usually, its only your hands and face that are exposed like this. The body armor worn prevents evaporation over a large area of the body. Adding a face mask, whether or not its a gas mask, would limit the air flow around the face, slowing evaporation and cooling. This presents a risk of overheating. I have seen Marines fine one minute and drop on the ground convulsing from a heat stroke the next minute. Any helmet with a face mask designed to be worn full time would need to incorporate some kind of system to help cool the person wearing it.
Now, if they don't incorporate a gas mask, in order to ensure a gas mask can properly seal, then the face mask would have to accomodate the gas mask when worn. This presents a problem when you introduce the neck brace portion of the system. To put on your gas mask, you have to take your helmet off. Seconds count when doing this. I question how much this neck brace would effect the time needed to remove your helmet.
I like the idea of better protection, as long as they aren't sacrificing safety elsewhere. If they can design this system to avoid the problems I have mentioned above, then I'm all for it.
Addding a HUD and a flashlight and such sounds neat, but safety first, extras second.
Oh why not just wrap them in armor like the Knights of the round table as they ready for a day of jousting.
So many recommendations from non-military personnel. lcpltom and battleshield have it right. The last thing I want is more weight and less visability. Not to mention the heat and breathability issue. If this thing hinders my breathing I'm not going to wear it. My speed of movement and situational awareness will prevent me from getting shot in the face better than the helmet will. Good concept, but it has a long way to go before its combat operational. If they can come up with a design that can keep temperatures under control, does not hinder visibility, including peripheral, and allows natural breathing then this would be a great helmet for a gunner in a turret.
Look up "Troy Hurtubise" He's been working on protective gear for 15 years now. Best known for Project Grizzly and Project Troy
Heat has already been mentioned, but moisture is another factor as well - since enclosing the entire face is going to trap moisture against the glass - fogging it up. At the very least you would need some sort of air circulation system that put dry air against the glass for vison and pushed moisture out.
The face shield does LOOK great, however, and that matters a lot when you are seperating your soldier's most basic human characteristics from them - the psycological connection with faces and faceless enemies is should not be trivialized with mere "stormtrooper" references. It deserves discussion.
The neck brace looked unwieldly. Since it appears to be restrictive enough to only be used in vehicle transport (when most roadside occur), I would rather see a build-in to the vehicle's seating to allow for the extra neck and back support. Having that system click into the helmet during transport, however, would make sense.
Of course, a better heads up display is always the dream - but often falls apart in the field where real time real life needs require a higher level of consistancy that technology can provide. By the time sensing, processing, interpratation, and projection become as seemless as Trololol wants, there would be no need to put an actual live troop in the conflict.
Most IED injuries occur while in a vehicle, in motion.
To keep this lighter, they could put some parts permanently in the vehicles to be worn when in transit.
Extra protection for times when there is extra risk....
i am deployed now and wear the current kevlar helmet daily, what most commenting on here fail to realize (even though the article mentioned it) is any redesign needs to remain comfortable or it will not be used, a face shield, shoulder support, and good ventilation is all that is needed to quickly get this deployed,remember the KISS acronym,heads up displays and other high tech gizmos can come later as they become available and kept LIGHT AS POSSIBLE, comfort, comfort, comfort!
The neck brace system seems large and unnecessary. I understand that a helmet with protection, comfort, and electronics would be heavy but a head should able to support some weight. Why not have a ring that swivels on an axis like a gyroscope with another disk on top that can turn 360 degrees. You get up and down movement and side to side movement. The harness system could be enclosed by a fabric(or mesh) material that can seal against the environment. Honestly a giant bar at the back of my head with an exposed track seems like a bad idea. That helmet wouldnt last long before crap gets in the track and keeps the helmet from moving easily. Probably been playing too much video games.
How would a visor, say a half visor open at the bottom, made from our best possible material-cost no object-work in our current active zone? In a sandy environment it will be ruined quickly. So then maybe not quite so pricey a visor, cheaper to trade out when needed, and throwaway? Of course, we know we can't just go throwing away relatively bulletproof material when our enemy employs guerrilla tactics, right? Then just use a few visors for each troop as more armor in his clothes. Change them out every couple of months in conditions like we have now.
Hmmmmm…Can you carry water in it for shaving or heat it for cooking? Can it be used as a seat? Can you dig with it? Ahhh…pre-Kevlar memories of the good ol´ Steel Pot.
all the cool guy stuff is great but...
Having worn a gas mask in hot environments, and sealed protective goggles, they fog up if your under ANY exertion . The neck brace would be pointless due to restricting head movement, I would much rather be able to see, and move my head freely in a engagement then have it restricted by a harness system. The face shield all well and good if its a half face type of deal, so I can have unrestricted breathing. Yes that's right folks combat is a very active sport. Now a Hud, flash lights, integrated comm, we all ready have. and the bitch part about? You now have more crap that needs batteries, and more weight. I've used land-warrior and its great but it still years away from being "soldier proof". A fighting load with a IOTV weighs in at a ball park of 70 to 80 pounds for riflemen, 80-90 for grenadiers, and 100 pounds for machine gunners. I know proper protection is a big deal, but for all that is holy, don't weigh me down with excess $#!t, that is more a detriment to my mobility, and make me a slow target.