The enhanced Mark 7 helmet and Osprey Assault body armor, which will provide equivalent ballistic protection to current systems but with a lighter weight and an improved fit were unveiled at the Defence Vehicle Dynamics (DVD) equipment show this week in Millbrook.
The MOD has ordered over 10,000 sets of the new helmets and armor under initial contracts worth Â£16m, with companies including NP Aerospace, Morgan Armour Ltd, Aegis Engineering Ltd, Seyntex and Solo International Ltd. The 10,000 sets are reported to go to Infantry, Engineers, and medical with all other general purpose forces retaining the Mk6a helmet and current Osprey armor.
Just as in the case of the MICH becoming the general issue ACH here in the US, the new Mk 7 is a variant of the AC900/600 helmet worn by UKSF on CT role. Of further evidence of SOF influence over kit design, the new armor carrier is supplied by Solo International located near Hereford, home of the British SAS. However, based on information we have received in the past we do not believe that this new equipment is a part of the PECOC program but rather an interim solution to solve an urgent operation requirement. This would also account for the relatively small procurement.
The new Mk 7 helmet features a four point chin strap for enhanced stability, particularly while wearing helmet mounted night vision devices. Additionally, the front lip has been cut back in order to increase visibility while in the prone and is reported to include configurable pads like the US ACH.
While we did say that the new Osprey carrier is being supplied by Solo International, it is interesting to note that they outsource their manufacture. Additionally, the UK does not have an equivalent of the Berry Amendment to ensure domestic production of defense textile articles so at this point we are unsure where the carriers will actually be produced. In addition to the carrier, a new, lighter armor plate is reported to be on it’s way to the troops.
Pictures: Andrew Linnett, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009