When it comes to military gear for the armed forces, the technology and products needed to ensure the safety of special operations troops have often taken a back seat to large military expenditures such as aircraft carriers, tanks, satellites, and ammunition.
But that may soon change. A few years ago, the British Ministry of Defense contacted Revision Military of Montreal, Canada with a request to create an improved helmet design that would reduce injuries to military forces from IED’s, blasts, and impacts.
According to Jonathan Blanshay, the company’s founder, “They realized the wound map was changing and a lot of injuries were happening to soldiers’ faces and jaws.”
Within about 6 months, the United States Army had heard about Revision’s innovative helmet system under development, dubbed Batlskin, and expressed interest as well.
Blanshay was surprised at the discovery that the major players such as Raytheon and ITT Corp weren’t paying attention to the important details of the tactical gear soldiers were wearing and carrying. His team scratched their heads and questioned, “Can it be true these big defense companies haven’t spent time to optimize soldier equipment?”
The improved Batlskin design over the standard-issue “brain bucket” offers full-face protection for the first time, weighs 20% less for optimal maneuverability with less likelihood of being discarded in situations where soldiers are hindered by weight, and is made from a polyethylene material that is stronger than traditional Kevlar. It also fits the curvature of the head to prevent bullet entry and better accommodates common accessories like night vision goggles and strobe lights that are often now clumsily affixed with duct tape or Velcro leading to poor performance during emergencies and critical missions which frequently occur at night.
The exterior of the helmet is comprised of carbon fiber and crushed walnuts. Dowling said, “The Army requires crushed walnuts to be put in the paint, creating little bumps,” to prevent the helmet surface from touching anything that could scratch or damage it.
The bottom portion of the helmet is also removable to enable soldiers to easily transition from one situation to another, such as permitting greater air movement for comfort in hot environments when full protection is no longer necessary or when physically relocating from a military engagement to a civilian region to ensure a less menacing demeanor when interacting with locals.
The integrated multifunctional Batlskin helmet is anticipated to make up for all of the major shortcomings found in existing military head gear regularly worn on the battlefield in combat, with the current version under review by the U.S. military and the next-generation more advanced model expected to be delivered for testing by June 2013.