Next-Generation Helmets Keep Defenders Lethal, Ready

By Malcolm McClendon, Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center Public Affairs, 8 October 2020

  Airman Alex Orquiza, 71st Security Forces Squadron, wears the next generation of ballistic helmet during a door breaching exercise at Vance Air Force Base, Okla., Sept. 15, 2020. The Air Force Security Forces Center is delivering the helmets to security forces units as part of its effort to standardize and modernize Defender equipment across the Air Force. The new helmets are lighter, cooler, have better padding and come with a built-in railing to fit accessories, such as night vision goggles and tactical communication equipment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Taylor Crul)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas (AFNS) --

The Air Force Security Forces Center is delivering the next generation of ballistic helmets to security forces units as part of its effort to standardize and modernize Defender equipment across the Air Force.

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.”

Nelson, who is also an experienced defender with 14 years of service, said this is what he and his team at the AFSFC Logistics Directorate work for: to get the right gear to Defenders in garrison and down range.

“My team’s work is directly impacting more than 38,000 Defenders across the Air Force for the next five to 10 years,” Nelson said, “and with the help of strategic partnerships, like those with the 771st Enterprise Sourcing Squadron, we’re doing it a lot quicker too.”

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.

 "We’re identifying salient characteristics of the best individual equipment industry has to offer at the best value to achieve standardization across the force,” said Lt. Col. Barry Nichols, AFSFC director of Logistics. “This effort is instrumental in keeping Defenders throughout the security forces enterprise ready and lethal with procurement of the most cutting-edge and innovative equipment available in order to accomplish missions safely and effectively.”

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