May 16, 2012

Honeywell delivers advanced ballistic materials for combat helmets to U.S. Army

Honeywell announced May 15 that it has completed the delivery of advanced ballistic materials that will be used in the development of next-generation combat helmets for the U.S. Army.

Honeywell has delivered 218 helmets containing advanced Spectra Shield® and Gold Shield® ballistic materials that the Army will evaluate to help set new helmet performance requirements. The helmets are designed to be 16 to 24 percent lighter than the helmets U.S. soldiers currently wear, and provide increased ballistic and non-ballistic performance against handgun rounds and fragments from improvised explosive devices. The delivery was made as part of a contract signed with the Army in April 2011.

“Honeywell’s latest materials will help the U.S. Army develop a new generation of combat helmets that provide soldiers with greater protection than they have today,” said James Thagard, global marketing manager for Honeywell’s Advanced Fibers and Composites business. “Honeywell’s comprehensive research and development program has consistently delivered state-of-the-art ballistics technology to the Army and other armed forces for more than two decades, and we are proud to play an important role in protecting U.S. soldiers.”

“Reducing the weight of body armor and head protection is a primary goal of the U.S. Army,” said Dr. James Zheng, Chief Scientist for Project Manager – Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment, Program Executive Office – Soldier, U.S. Army. “Through the testing of these new helmets, we will be able to accelerate the development of future lightweight helmet systems.”

The new helmet materials and designs will be evaluated by the Army’s Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier, a military organization responsible for the development, procurement, and fielding of equipment for Army soldiers. Only helmets made with Spectra Shield and Gold Shield ballistic materials will be used in the evaluation, which will ultimately determine the performance characteristics and design of future Army helmets.

Reducing the weight of body armor and head protection is of critical importance to the comfort and safety of the modern soldier. Lighter body armor and head protection provides soldiers greater mobility on the battlefield.

Helmets are one of the most complex parts of a soldier’s protective equipment, and must be designed to protect against projectile impacts and shockwaves from improvised explosive devices. Ballistic materials designed for helmets must have the strength to perform when molded into a curved shape.

Honeywell ballistic materials have been used in many of the world’s most advanced military and law enforcement armor systems – from bullet-resistant vests, breastplates, and helmets to combat vehicles and military aircraft – where lightweight strength is critical.

Spectra Shield is manufactured using Honeywell’s proprietary shield technology, which bonds parallel strands of Spectra® fiber with an advanced resin system. In addition to Spectra fiber, Honeywell adapts this technology to other fibers, including aramid.

Spectra fiber is made from ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene using a patented gel-spinning process. The fiber exhibits high resistance to chemicals, water and ultraviolet light, and has excellent vibration damping, flex fatigue and internal fiber-friction characteristics. The fiber also has as much as 60 percent greater specific strength than aramid fiber.

In addition to armor, Spectra fiber is used in a variety of industrial applications, including high-performance mooring rope, industrial slings, fishing line and security netting, as well as curtains that protect windows and doors during hurricanes.

Honeywell maintains an extensive Spectra fiber and ballistic material research and development program aimed at meeting increased demand for its high-performance armor materials.

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