Advanced Combat Helmet


U.S. body armor has an Achilles heel — its new helmet

newhelmet.jpgThe Army’s new ACH is based on the Modular Integrated Communications Helmet (MICH) and was designed to integrate better with modern communication gear, night vision equipment, and especially the newest body armor and has been used by the Special Forces for some time. It’s also lighter, which is always a weclome thing.

But the new design also might leave troops more vulnerable to rear and side shots and shrapnel damage due to its smaller design and shape.

Here’s a pretty cool Shockwave Flash page covering the helmet and other new gear. Here’s a February 2003 article on the MICH in National Defense Magazine.

I noted over a year ago that the Marines were adopting their own new helmet to address the same issues that the Army was facing.


  1. Design is about trade-offs. A bigger helmet blocks sound and vision more. A smaller helmet leaves you more vulnerable. Someone’s gotta make the tough choices. Hopefully they found the right balance.

  2. Oops, I meant to also mention that a bigger helmet is more likely to get in the way of movement, as well. Different point: How come when the military redesigns a piece of equipment, there’s always at least one guy who thinks its a terrible idea.

  3. Chuck: I think you’re spot-on about the trade-offs. This is sort of like the Stryker LAV and the complaints that it doesn’t have enough armor AND that it’s too heavy. They could add armor, but that makes it even heavier. They could lighten the load, but only by making it even more vulnerable. Same thing with this helmet. As for there always being one guy who thinks new stuff is junk, it’s probably just human nature (wariness of change) mixed with the fact that these are life-and-death decisions mixed with the fact that there is Big Money involved. Again, this reminds me of the Stryker. Critics point out that it isn’t nearly as safe or effective as the Bradley fighting vehicle, but they conveniently forget that many folks were very critical of the Bradley when it first came about, as well. When whatever replaces the Stryker (or this new helmet, for that matter) there will be plenty of people swearing up and down that to get rid of the Stryker (and this new helmet) is suicide. The critics of new military equipment aren’t always wrong, of course. It’s hard to tell going in, just like everything else in life. Just my two cents, anyway.

  4. Could you show a upclose view of the armys ACU camo.? What makes it so much better than marpat, and why does it have white in it instead of black? ….just curious

  5. Being a soldier and having suffered under the PASGT for a long time, the ACH is welcome. So what if it gives 7% less coverage. 7%! Have you seen the size of someof the IEDs the t—-heads light off against us? The minor loss of Ballistic Material will not be the difference between life and death- as for stopping bullets, this helmet’s protection is far better than the PASGT which was rated ot stop only up to 5.56 (though there are documented incidents of it stopping more). This helmet makes tactical and common sense partners in the same design. Lighter- less fatigue, less chance of neck injury. Stronger- better protection overall. Smaller- won’t interfere with tactical optics, sighting a weapon, works in a variety of shooting positions (who remembers the 2 minutes spent at every rifle range adjusting your PASGT ‘just so’ so that you could shoot in the prone unsupported?), less blockage of the ears so you can hear your soldiers when patrolling. Fine you don’t like it, your opinion. But if you get paid less than minimum wage to endanger your life, so the average wanna-be can post anything they want on the net to criticize your gear- you’re still going to wear it when it gets issued to you, and you’ll learn to appreciate the world of difference it willmake on your head and shoulders! Happy Hunting.

  6. Andrew: I think you misread me. I’m not criticizing the ACH at all. The ‘NEW HELMET: HEALTH HAZZARD?’ and ‘U.S. body armor has an Achilles heel — its new helmet’ are links to other stories about the helmet. I’m simply pointing the new gear out. I particularly think the ‘body armor has an Achilles heel’ one is stupid, since the change in the shape of the helmet is mostly due to body armor compatibility issues. This is definitely a good thing. Everything is about trade offs, though, and nothing is gained without sacrificing something. In this case, the lessened coverage totally looks like a sacrifice worth making. Thanks for commenting.

  7. I am not really so sure that this new helmet is totally advantageous. Yes, The design is good when it comes to equipment intercompatibility but it really does make the soldier more vulnerable to fragmentation injury. Although the new helmet design is reasonable, (because the PASGT helmet tends to get tipped over by the vest’s ballistic collar when soldiers go prone and obstructs vision) I still wonder whether the sacrifice was worth it. I mean, why can’t they just make the old PASGT helmet better by constructing it from kevlar 129 or whatever material the new helmat is made of and modifying the body armor and/or equipment to be compatible with the helmet instead of modifying the helmet to be compatible with the gear. Just wondering.

  8. Hey Vic, How much do you want for the ACH? I have a friend who got his stolen in Iraq, and well, someone has to pay for it or replace it. Let me know what condition it is in. Thanks

  9. I ain’t gettin’ on no plane Hannibal! Sorry just stumbled on your blog and couldn’t resist a bit of spontaneous word association. Cheers. Flanker6

  10. Hey, are you interested to trade the helmet for an dutch kevlar helmet + woodland camo cover + snow camo cover + UN camo cover + desert camo cover ( the Dutch SF use the desert camo now in Iraq and Afganistan

  11. I am looking for the new ACH helmet to use as a reference prop in a mural that I am painting for the 90th RRC HQ in Little Rock, AR. Please advise if the helmet is still available. Email or phone, 770-242-3002. Visit to view the part of the mural that is complete and on display. Thanks, Britt