The Army is testing next step in helmet technology. No longer just a glorified coconut shell, new headgear will integrate active cooling, air filtration, improved skull and ear protection, and possibly a heads-up display.
In World War I, the campaign cover provided a defense against low-velocity shrapnel, rain, and sun, but not much else.
The M1 design from World War II continued to be used for decades.
The Army is working on protecting its Soldiers on the battlefield against chemical and biological weapons, as well as protecting the most important part of the body, the brain. In what looks like something out of Star Wars — and will probably make troops sound a little like Darth Vader — this new equipment should provide greater battlefield capability:
It’s all taking place at the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center:
In 2013, Edgewood Chemical Biological Center scientists began designing concepts for the next generation of chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear respirators. They developed a fan embedded within the mask’s filtration system that uses less power, is lighter and is far less bulky than conventional respirators. In addition to reduced weight and power requirements, this system offers major improvements to the level of comfort and effectiveness of the mask.
The mini-blower works by pulling air through a filtration system on the side of the mask and sweeping it across the nose cup to allow for even flow across the face. When the user exhales, the air valve closes and diverts all of the clean filtered air into the mask’s eye cavity to over-pressurize the face piece, preventing any potential for outside contaminates to enter the mask should there be a break in the seal.
In test studies, a modified, commercial version of the M50 joint service general purpose mask has proven to be more comfortable to a Soldier, and maintains the same or greater effectiveness when crawling, running, or during rifle exercises and combat maneuvers. These technology demonstrations produced real-time data on mask protection factors, thermal sensation and comfort to the Soldier.
Edgewood Chemical Biological Center’s Respiratory Protection Branch continues to develop multiple technologies, anticipating integration with next-generation helmet and communication system designs and user needs.