German Ballistic Protection Level

  1. Protective Vest In General
  2. Protection Level
  3. Types of Vests
  4. International Standards
  5. Differences between German & American Level
  6. Ballistic Protection Test
  7. Federal Armed Forces Vests
  8. Soft Armor
  9. Hard Armor
  10. Combat Helmet in General
  11. Features modern Ballistic Combat Helmets
  12. Current International Developments
  13. Federal Armed Forces Combat Helmets
  14. Well known Manufacturers and Products

1. THE PROTECTIVE VEST

"A protective vest is intended to protect the wearer from impacts (ballistic protection), other mechanical effects and, if necessary, against attacks with knives (impact and cut protection). It is intended not only to prevent the penetration of the bullet but also to avoid serious injuries which can be caused by the impulse of the stopped bullet on the body."(Source: Technische Richtlinie der Deutschen Polizei).

If a bullet hits a bullet-proof vest, the kinetic energy of the projectile is absorbed and spread over a surface as large as possible. The projectile itself remains in the vest body, and the impulse is passed on to the bearer of the protective vest. Both lead to dull trauma.

Protective vests are not make "bullet-proof" but protect the wearer from the lethal effect of bullets up to the stated level of protection.

2. Protective Levels

SK L

ballistic-resistant against softcore bullets, shot from 9 mm x 19 pistols

SK 1

ballistic-resistant against softcore bullets and police bullets shot from short-arm (including submachine guns) in 9 mm x 19 mm

SK1 Soft ballistic Inserts

SK 2

ballistic-resistant against full bullets (e.g., of copper or brass) or steel core bullets, fired from hand-gun including submachine guns

SK 3

ballistic-resistant against softcore bullets, shot from rifles

SK 4

ballistic-resistant against hardcore bullets, shot from rifles

NIJ4 Hardballistic ESAPI Plate

3. Types of Vests

SK L ST

ballistic-resistant against softcore bullets shot from 9 mm x 19 guns and stab-resistant against attacks with knives (blade)

SK 1 ST

ballistic-resistant against softcore bullets and police bullets, fired from 9 mm x 19 short-arm (including submachine guns) and stab-resistant against attacks with knives (blades)

SK 2,3,4

ballistic-resistant according to the above. Protection classes and stab-resistant against attacks with knives and pointed objects (e.g., needles and cannulas) due to the hard protective portion. 

The Procurement takes place in the following Versions:

  • covert vest, to wear as concealed underwear
  • overcoat vest, to wear over the clothes

A significantly higher trauma value is tolerated in the covert vest than in the overcoat vest.

4. What are the international standards for ballistic protection?

  • Technical Guideline (TR) of the German police with their protection classes SK1 to SK4,
  • NIJ-I to NIJ-IV from the American National Institute of Justice.
  • The English standards of CAST (Center of Applied Science and Technology) HG1, HG1a, HG2, HG3, RF1, RF2, and SG1,
  • The test guidelines according to VPAM (Association of Testing Centers for Anti-Attack Materials and Constructions), which is applied in the countries of Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Norway.
  • For the stab-resistance, there are among others. German standards of protection, standards KR1 to KR3 according to CAST, level 1-3 according to NIJ, as well as classes K1 to K4 according to VPAM

5. Differences between German and American protection levels?

  • The test method,
  • The different classification into the protective level,
  • The various test stories being used

Contrary to the US directive, the German directive requires a so-called "mounted" shot, in which the weapon is pressed onto the specimen during the firing with a force of 100 Nm. Furthermore, in the case of the German directive, the angular fire takes place at an angle of 25 ° in relation to 45 ° and 60 ° in the US test. The tests required in the German Directive with temperature conditioning the protection packages at -20 ° C and + 70 ° C That is not part of the NIJ requirement. Also, the used test storys are not identical. For example, in the very basic protection classes, which are most closely comparable: the German protection class 1 and the NIJ-Level III-A; in the German requirement no fire with the .44 Magnum is carried out. On the other hand, the 9 mm projectile used is not identical. The DM41SR required in the German TR is more aggressive than the 9 mm cartridge used in the NIJ due to the steel jacket and the cartridge ( 9 x 18 vs 9 x 19 mm).

The difference in protection level 4 compared to the level IV of the NIJ is similarly striking. While the German guideline is subject to a 3-shot test, the US standard requires only a single shot. Again, the used bullets behavior is also differently.

6. When is a test not passed?

The test of the ballistic protection is not passed if:

  • A partial penetration occurs.
  • The stuck projectile is seen from the side of the test object facing the body and
  • parts of the test object (e.g., metal chips) can be found in the test body.

The mean value of the impression depths measured in a test (for example, temperature test) in plasticine exceeds the mean value determined by the plasticity measurement or the mean twofold value (in the case of the shot weft of the protective class 1 as well as in the testing of covered protection vests).

The stab-resistance test is not passed if:

  • The test blade penetrates deeper than 20 mm into the plasticine,
  • The sum of the values for exploitation and penetration depth is exceeded 40 mm against the original surface.
  • Parts of the test object (e.g., metal chips) can be found in the plasticine.

7. Protection vests of the Bundeswehr (German Federal Armed Forces)

  • Schutzweste Standard (ST),
  • Spezialkräfte (SK) and
  • Infantry (IdZ-ES)
  • of the German manufacturer Mehler Vario Systems,

Military Police vest:

made by GARANT Sicherheitstechnik AG

8. Soft ballistics

Principle of action: the energy is partly absorbed by the projectile causing the individual layers to move and the fibers to expand; The projectile then forms a bulge on the side of the tear-resistant tissue facing the body, parallel the projectile moves the body tissue beyond at the same rate and loses so its rest energy.

Multilayer mesh or filament structure are made of tear-resistant fabric,

usually aramid fibers such as Kevlar or Twaron; Possibly also Cylon or Dyneema.

The natural aging process, UV light, and moisture lead to the loss of the extremely tear-resistant properties of the plastics.

It protects only against short-arm bullets.

9. Hard Ballistics​

Principle of action: the projectile hits a plate of hard material, the kinetic energy is absorbed by the plate and leads to deformations of the

oxide ceramic or polyethylene plates, formerly: ballistic steel.

Depending on the material thickness (often in the layering principle of different materials), all types of projectiles can be stopped.

Full protection is often achieved only in combination with soft ballistic protection packages.

The standard size of the US military: 10 x 12 inches (25.4 cm x 30.5 cm) with chamfered upper corners = (E) SAPI-Plates (Small Arms Protective Insert)

10. The Combat Helmet

In the middle of World War I:

Severe head injuries due to shrapnel gave the

Birth of the "Stahlschutzhelm Modell 1916"

made from a steel plate in 6 working steps

pronounced forehead and neck protection

"(...) the number of injuries in the head and neck area has been rising steadily since the 20th century and currently, account for between 20 and 39 percent of the total wound." (Jan-Philipp Weisswange: Protection for the "main" weapon - Modern combat helmets)

11. Features of modern Ballistic Helmets

Protection

Influencing the protection by choice and thickness of the material, design, interior equipment including the

protection from falls, impacts, and bumps.

Increasing the protection area and utilizing the surface so possible topping-elements can be added, for example by using the helmet in combination with other head-protective elements such as eyewear, hearing protection, and respiratory protection. Also, additional camouflage protection by colored coating, camouflage coverings like helmet covers, natural camouflage material or painting.

HCS Gunfighter Helmet NIJ3A

Interfaces

Radio, night vision, cameras, lights, counterweights

For night vision technology there are now standardized interfaces, for example from the company Wilcox.

In many models, it is possible to attach MIL-STD 1913 side rails.

Comfort

Modern helmets have a variety of individual customization options like pads or the NOSHA mesh of the Bundeswehr combat helmets.

The user has to wear the helmet over long periods without fatigue and can also perform dynamic operations.

The combat helmet is not only used to protect the head from dull blows, shards, shrapnel, projectiles, and other threats but as a modular interface to additional equipment (night vision and communication technology, protective elements).

12. Current international developments

The US helmet "Fritz Hat" of the Personal Armor System Ground Troop (PASGT), which has appeared since the 1980s and since then has shaped the appearance of modern armed forces, has been replaced.

New designs and materials - especially high-strength polyethylenes - are spreading.

Since the mid-2000s, helmets with a spotting set or active hearing protection can be worn.

In addition to the classic low-cut calotte, increased mid-cut and high-cut calves, to create space for the capsule hearing protection thanks to shortened edges or cut-outs.

The US forces used the model MICH (Modular Integrated Communications Helmet) and ACH (Advanced Combat Helmet); Additional introduction of the polyethylene model ECH (Enhanced Combat Helmet).

Widespread are now also the FAST (Future Assault Shell Technology) helmets of the US manufacturer Ops-Core.

The much lighter FAST helmets are no longer made of aramid, but made of polyethylene from Dyneema.

Since the end of 2011 the FAST models, which are widely distributed throughout the world, are part of the cross-sectional equipment in Norway.

In Germany, Hexonia sells the Ops core helmets with modular extensions, for example with an attachable armor plate.

The combat helmet system SpezKr utilizes the latest ballistic materials, ergonomic interior design, low weight, high ballistic protection and comfort, individual adjustment thanks to different pads and adjustable straps.

13. Combat helmets in the Federal Armed Forces​

Since the 1990s, the steel helmet, which was based on the American M1 design, was replaced by the "combat helmet, personal"

It is an aramid helmet with NOSHA interior and classic calotte.

To the IDZ armament set (infantryman of the future) - The FAST helmet is the helmet system of choice.

The FAST helmet was the basis for the "Combat Helmet System SpezKr" recently delivered by Hexonia to the Federal Armed Forces.

The modular IDZ system consisting of a total of 25 items, the set includes the combat helmet and a light helmet for other applications (no ballistic protection) serving as a "device carrier."

Various attachments: adaptive ballistic protection for the face and sides, interfaces for cameras/lamps/ night vision devices/capsule hearing protectors, different camouflage covers, counterweights, accessory pockets.

14. Well known manufacturers and products

3M / Schuberth

3M Combat II:

  • Was already introduced as an ECH for the US armed forces
  • Is made of polyethylene material (Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene, UHMWPE)
  • Offers protection against selected long-wind calibers for the first time
  • Has already proved its worth in the field of AK-47

3M ULW-BBH:

  • Consists of UHMWPE, is oriented on the sizes at the ECH
  • Higher cut-out cap, screwless design
  • Particularly light weight
  • Is suitable for parachute jumping
  • Protects against bumps, blows, splinters, NIJIIIA
ARMORSOURCE

Was decisively involved in the development of the ACH concept

Helmets tested and certified according to VPAM BW-TL AS 505 (LW-ACH), AS 501, AS 600.

All helmets tested and certified according to EN 397.

AS 600:

Also has a certified bombardment against 7.62 x 51 mm M80 (at approx. 680 m/s) and against 7.62 x 39 mm soft core shells at a distance of 11 yds (10 meters), as well as certification according to VPAM3 in the sense of the police TL from Mellrichstadt

intensive testing with the Armasuisse and Swiss Army.

Source Disclosures

  • NIJ-Portal Body Armor http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/topics/technology/body-armor/welcome.htm
  • Technische Richtlinie „Ballistische Schutzwesten“ http://www.pfa.nrw.de/PTI_Internet/pti-intern.dhpol.local/WG/Regelungen/Schutzweste/SchutzwesteTR_03-08_Revisionen-10-08_09-09.pdf
  • Mehler VarioSystems: http://www.m-v-s.de/pdf/Schutzklassen_Deutsch_Ref_SW051021.pdf
  • Dragon Skin® von Pinnacle Armor: http://www.pinnaclearmor.com/body-armor/dragon-skin.php
  • Lisa Myers report: http://dailynightly.msnbc.com/2007/05/army_responds_t.html
  • PTIOnline: http://www.pfa.nrw.de/PTI_Internet/pti-intern.dhpol.local/WG/Schutzausstattung/Stichschutz_97.html
  • PTIOnline: http://www.pfa.nrw.de/PTI_Internet/pti-intern.dhpol.local/WG/Regelungen/Koerperschutz12-95.pdf.html
  • Stephan Restle: Ballistische Schutzwesten und Stichschutzoptionen. Kabinett Verlag, Bischofszell 1997, ISBN 3-906572-03-X.
  • Vereinigung der Prüfstellen für angriffshemmende Materialien und Konstruktionen (VPAM) (Hrsg.): Prüfrichtlinie „Stich- und Schlagschutz“. Stand: 18. Mai 2011
  • TL-Suchmaske des Bundesamtes für Wehrtechnik und Beschaffung TL.-Nr. 8470
  • Homepage von Mehler Vario Systems mit Datenblättern einiger beschriebener Schutzwesten
  • Homepage von GARANT Sicherheitstechnik AG, dem Hersteller der Schutzweste Feldjäger

Dr. sc. forens., Dipl.-Math. Beat P. Kneubuehl: Ballistischer Schutz, Juni 2000, überarbeitet März 2003

Jan-Phillipp Weisswange: Schutz für die "Haupt"-Waffe - Moderne Gefechtshelme

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