The US Army has been putting state-of-the-art personal protection technology through its paces in airborne trials.
Testing of its new IHPS (Integrated Head Protection System) took place in July. Details of it were subsequently reported by US military news outlets the following month.
The IHPS trials served to validate the new helmet’s performance at altitude. They saw members of the 57th Sapper Company working with ABNSOTD (US Army Operational Test Command Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate) representatives.
Part of the 27th Engineer Battalion, 20th Engineer Brigade, the 57th Sapper Company is based at Fort Hood, Texas. Its rough terrain airborne insertion certification is unique among US Army companies. This means that, in theory, its troops can be para-dropped anywhere on Earth.
Integrated Head Protection
The IHPS is the head-borne element of the six-piece Soldier Protection System. Expanding the present Army Combat Helmet’s coverage level to better protect warfighters’ faces and heads, it’s also lighter than its predecessor.
A plethora of accessories, including a visor, NVG (Night Vision Goggles) attachment device and mandible guard, can be added-on while an integrated head trauma measurement system is included as standard.
Of course, the helmet’s got to be operationally effective too, and that’s where the 57th Sapper Company’s assistance was required. As ABNSOTD director Colonel Brad Mock explains, obtaining feedback from the troops that’ll be using it is vital, if the US Army’s world-leading warfighting technology deployment legacy is to remain intact.
"Operational Testing is about Soldiers”, he states in the US Army’s IHPS trials news release. “It is about making sure that the systems developed are effective in a Soldier's hands and suitable for the environments in which Soldiers train and fight.”
New Helmet Testing
The new helmet testing saw the 57th’s troops jump out of a USAF Boeing C-17 Globemaster III strategic transport aircraft from 1,250 feet above ground level. They touched down on the Sicily drop zone located at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Current plans see 7,000 IHPS units being dispatched to selected units next year. The technology will then enter mass production and be distributed right across the US Army.
Main image: ‘Soldier configured with the new Integrated Head Protection System (IHPS) with the mandible, while wearing combat equipment.’ (Photo Credit: Rebecka Waller, Audio Visual Production Specialist, Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate, US Army Operational Test Command)
First embedded image: ‘The new Integrated Head Protection System (IHPS) is configured with mandible and visor without ballistic applique for "Rough Terrain" static line parachute jump operations.’ (Photo Credit: Rebecka Waller, Audio Visual Production Specialist, Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate, US Army Operational Test Command)
Second embedded image: ‘1st Lt. Christopher Lillie, assistant jumpmaster with the 57th Sapper Company, 27th Engineer Battalion, 20th Engineer Brigade, wears the new Integrated Head Protection System (IHPS) helmet with mandible, while shouting commands to position the number one jumper in the door of a C-17 aircraft.’ (Photo Credit: Barry Fischer, Audio Visual Production Specialist, Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate, U.S. Army Operational Test Command)