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C4iSR: Joint & Common Equipment

AUSA 2018: 3M introduces new, lightweight protective helmet

08 October 2018
3M’s F70 was tested to NIJ IIIA ballistic penetration protection standards (9 mm). Source: 3M

Minnesota-based conglomerate 3M has launched a new lightweight, mid-level protection helmet designed with a night-vision goggle mount and mandible visor at the Association of the United States Army's annual conference, held from 8 to 10 October in Washington, DC.

Named the F70, the helmet meets National Institute of Justice (NIJ) IIIA ballistic penetration protection standards (which includes protection against 9 mm rounds), the company said. It provides V50 fragmentation protection against 17 grain .22 calibre FSP at than 840 m/s when tested in accordance with NATO STANAG 2920, 3M officials told Jane's .

The helmet is available in a high-cut version that weighs 770 g and a mid-cut version that weighs 870 g, according to Terry Griffith, 3M's global business manager for defence. "The weight to protection [ratio] is really the foundational part of our product offering," he said, adding that its "boltless design" means there are no through-holes in the helmets.

Drilling holes in a polyethylene helmet can degrade its protective properties, Griffith explained, but accessories can still be mounted to the F70 via a screw into additional material on the helmet's outer skin, instead of into the helmet's shell. It can be sold with mandible protection and visor accessories.

3M has sold the F70 to "a few agencies", Griffith said, but declined to elaborate. The helmet is intended mainly for users who value speed and need to manoeuvre quickly.

For heavier protection, in October 2017 3M unveiled its Combat II Ballistic Helmet L110, designed to protect personnel from blast fragmentations, certain rifle projectiles, handgun bullets, and blunt impacts.

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