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Back in 2013, the U.S. Army launched its next-gen Soldier Protection System (SPS) program. The goal of the program is to boost lethality, mobility and modularity by optimizing soldier protection and reducing equipment weight. The SPS consists of five different subsystems, one of which is the Integrated Head Protection System (IHPS). Ceradyne Inc., a 3M subsidiary, is the company that manufactures the helmet. Now, Ceradyne has just been awarded a $34 million contract to continue supplying the IHPS helmet to the Army.

IHPS Helmet

The Army touts the IHPS as a five percent lighter-weight helmet system. It’s made of helmet/maxillofacial and passive hearing protection with increased blunt impact performance. In addition, it was designed to protect soldiers against “modern battlefield threats, including powerful rifle projectiles and handgun bullets,” the 3M press release states.

The IHPS helmet is capable of being equipped with a number of accessories. This includes a mandible, visor, night vision goggles, rails and a ballistic applique plate for added security.

“This order reinforces the Army’s confidence in 3M to design and produce the IHPS, which is so advanced, it sets a new global standard for head protection,” Cheryl Ingstad, the business manager for 3M’s Advanced Ceramics Platform, said in the presser.

The new $34 million agreement brings the total value of 3M’s contract with the U.S. Army to $52 million. 3M is set to deliver the helmets imminently and will continue deliveries throughout 2018. The helmet was tested last year. See photos of the test above.

SPS Primer

In addition to the IHPS helmet, the SPS program consists of a Vital Torso Protection (VTP), Torso and Extremity Protection (TEP), Transition Combat Eye Protection (TCEP) and Integrated Soldier Sensor System (ISSS). Here’s a quick look at each via the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center website.

The Vital Torso Protection (VTP) includes lighter-weight Enhanced Small Arm Protective Inserts/Enhanced Side Ballistic Inserts (ESAPI/ESBI) as well as the X Threat Small Arms Protective Inserts (XSAPI)/X Threat Side Ballistic Inserts (XSBI) for deployers.

The Torso and Extremity Protection (TEP) is further comprised of multiple components to include the Modular Scalable Vest (MSV), the Ballistic Combat Shirt (BCS), the Blast Pelvic Protector (BPP) and the Load Distribution System (LDS).

The Transition Combat Eye Protection (TCEP) will include ballistic protective eyewear capable of transitioning from light to dark and dark to light in less than one second, providing a 10 percent increase in fragmentation. This capability aids Soldiers in a combat environment to move rapidly in varying light conditions.

The Integrated Soldier Sensor System (ISSS) will include a multifaceted sensor system capable of measuring heart rate, temperature and hydration levels, and will include a data retrieval system.

For a breakdown of 3M’s ballistic helmets, visit 3m.com.

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