The ACH replaces the old PASGT helmet in the Army, and offers a number of improvements including exposed ears to improve hearing, a set mount for night vision gear, better protection against bullets in covered areas, and a system of internal pads that improve protection against blasts and their accompanying potential for brain trauma. That padding has been a source of controversy, as the US Marines’ Light Weight Helmets (LWH) have been criticized for lacking this feature.
In May 2009, the Army recalled helmets from Gentex. Now, on May 13/10, they have issued a recall notice for 44,000 ArmorSource helmets in the field…
ACH manufacturers included ArmorSource, Gentex, Mine Safety Appliances, and Specialty Defense Systems (since acquired by BAE systems).
ArmorSource was formerly formerly Rabintex USA LLC, ad is based in Hebron, OH. They are 1 of 4 manufacturers who make ACH helmets for the US military, and their 102,000 manufactured helmets comprise a small percentage of the estimated 1.6 million ACH helmets in stock. The helmets affected by the recall were made from August 2007 – November 2009. About 44,000 of those helmets were in the field, another 55,000 were in bonded storage, and the Army refused delivery of an additional 3,000.
Brig. Gen. Peter Fuller, head of Program Executive Office Soldier at Fort Belvoir, VA, told Military.com that ballistics testing did not result in “lethal penetrations,” and that it would take a combination of worst-case scenarios to result in unexpected injuries. Program Manager Col. William Cole, added that the tested helmets “fell short on Army standards – not by much, but the standards are absolute.”
ArmorSource’s own statement [PDF] says only that:
”...ArmorSource received no notification of this recall from the government and has no additional information at this time regarding the recall other than that press release.
ArmorSource is committed to providing products that meet or exceed the government’s performance specifications with safety as its highest priority. To that end ArmorSource has a quality assurance program for the helmets that was reviewed by and approved by U.S. Government quality assurance representatives.
All Advanced Combat Helmets distributed to the field were accepted by the government after they passed independent, government-approved quality and lot testing. ArmorSource will cooperate fully with any governmental inquiries regarding its Advanced Combat Helmet and is seeking to obtain additional information to allow ArmorSource to address the government’s concerns.”
May 14/10: The Us DoD issues a press release, announcing the recall. See also Military.com’s story, which is the source of much of the timeline information below.
May 13/10: The Army issues the recall notice within its ranks. Soldiers with ACH helmets made by ArmorSource are instructed to turn them in, and have them replaced by ACH helmets from other manufacturers.
May 12/10: The Army receives the preliminary results from the ballistics re-tests at Aberdeen, MD.
April 27/10: Contract termination proceedings begin between the US Army and ArmorSource.
Feb 2/10: The US Army issues a stop-work order to ArmorSource.
Jan 10/10: The US DOJ tells the Army it’s expanding its investigation to include ArmorSource’s ACH helmets, and recommends retests.
Some of the 55,000 ArmorSource helmets in Army storage are subsequently pulled for additional ballistics testing at the Army’s test center in Aberdeen, MD. Army officials also visit the Hebron, OH plant.
December 2009: The Department of Justice informs the Army that it’s investigating UniCorps, who subcontracts the US Marines’ LWH construction to ArmorSource.
November 2009: Soldiers notice that the factory-applied paint is peeling off of some ArmorSource ACHs.