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Ceradyne Awarded LRIP for ECH

Ceradyne, makers of the Enhanced Combat Helmet (ECH) has received the first (~$3 million) of possibly two low rate initial production orders. Ceradyne expects full rate production to commence during second quarter of calendar year 2012 with totals to exceed $170 million. It’s good to see this program moving forward after it was plagued with curing issues after showing initial success. According to Ceradyne and the Marine Corps, slight changes in the manufacturing process to accommodate the transition of tech development to production had to be dealt with to ensure consistent performance.

Called the Ceradyne Diaphorm Ballistic Helmet, the winning ECH design is twice the price of current Army and Marine Corps helmets, but provides up to 70% improvement in ballistic protection. In addition to delays, the program has received criticism over its arbitrary protection level (an undisclosed .30 threat) since there has been no move to dissipate the energy of such a round. Additionally, the size, weight and shape of the Army’s ACH was chosen for the ECH. Rather than decreasing weight and maintaining current ballistic protection to make troops more agile and to help offset the added weight of applique sensors and lights, the choice was made to maintain the current burden on the wearers neck and increase ballistic protection. Instead of telling industry that they wanted to defeat a threat, the Marine Corps wrote a requirement that boxed everyone into a narrow set of solutions.

On the other hand, both Soldiers and Marines will be receiving a new, more protective helmet. What’s more, the legacy Army’s ACH and USMC LWH both rely on Aramid fabric (Kevlar) while the ECH uses an advanced thermoplastic (PE) product. Reliance on Aramids for ballistic armor such as the IOTV and IMTV result in heavier armor systems. Hopefully, this paradigm shift in headborne systems will open up new materials options for body armor.

www.ceradyne.com

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8 Responses to “Ceradyne Awarded LRIP for ECH”

  1. straps says:

    I’m presuming that not disclosing the exact threat has something to do with NOT wanting to tell the Chinese EXACTLY what ballistic performance characteristics they should specify when producing–and marketing–their “Infidel Headshot” load.

  2. RobD says:

    No it doesnt, they do not want you to know that instead of getting you a lighter helmet that performs the same as the old one (COTS available now), they instead took virtually no weight off but now stop a round not faced on the battlefield, and the BFD is so severe you are dead anyway.

  3. SSD says:

    It’s pretty silly really. The troops wearing the helmet won’t even know what it is designed to stop.

  4. john says:

    How is this thing suppose to dissipate all that energy that’s hitting my school and neck? Should of gone ops core route.

  5. Oneoops31 says:

    The undisclosed means undisclosed to the public there are set standards and letter designated threat levels. Those of us who need to know will be able to find out what the protection level is. On the subject of protecting against threats that are on the battle field you might want to tell that to our guy that took a 7.62X54 to the front of His helmet. Thank god it hit something attached to the helmet first and did not penetrate. There are big bullet threats on the battle not every bad guy carrys an AK there are PKM’s and the like all over AFG. I will gladly sport an ECH as soon as they are fielded.

  6. If they use the current GI helmet pads in the ECH, the pads’ firmness will translate into more energy transmitted to the brain when such a round is ‘stopped’. Given the weight will be the same as the MICH/ACH, troops will have the same problem they now havewith severe headache, helmet instability with hardware mounted, and be tempeted to take their brain bucket off even on patrols…and especially when inside armored vehicles. That’s a dangerous practice and easily solved. Visit http://www.operationhelmet for the staight skinny from combat troops about the current GI helmet pads.

  7. Riceball says:

    I’m just glad that the Army and Marine Corps are going to be, once again, using the same helmets. The whole different uniform thing is bad enough but I thought that it was getting a bit out of hand when the Corps & the Army started to use different helmets and body armor. Body armor I can kind of understand because of the Army wanting everything done in UCP but there’s no reason for different helmets though.