The MICH Combat Helmet MICH 2000 - ACH-ECH

The MICH - Modular Integrated Communications Helmet is a famous modern combat helmet used by the US military and many other armies worldwide. It is the successor of the PASGT-helmet and provides variants like the high-cut, ACH, or gunfighter helmet that fits most combat applications on the modern battlefield. We also take a look at the ECH-helmet.

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History

This helmet design was designed as part of a series of tactical helmets for the Army Special Operations Command in the US. They were designed as a replacement for the PASGT helmet (PASGT:
Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops). They also replaced different non-ballistic bump, riding, and whitewater helmets.

 

PASGT Combat Helmet

The MICH was developed in 1997. However, the design was not released until 2001. The United States Army Soldier Systems Center released the helmet series.

Reason for MICH development

The primary reason why this helmet series was established is that its counterparts (PASGT) had some structural issues. The helmets were effectively protective. However, they were too heavy for the users' liking. For this reason, the MICH helmets were developed as a lighter, more comfortable, and better-fitting solution.

Characteristics of MICH helmets

Below are some defining characteristics of the Modular Integrated Communications Helmet series:

  • These helmets are designed to carry rails and an NVG-shroud (space between the screws of the harness is standardized) that are made of plastic or aluminum, making it easier for soldiers to mount accessories like night vision devices or helmet lights onto them.
  • They are a more comfortable and closer fitting design, which makes them a better option than their older counterparts.
  • They are lightweight, ca. 2.5 - 3.5 lbs
  • They are made of modern ballistic protection fibers, like Kevlar.

While all the characteristics mentioned above were advantageous in several ways, a few complaints were that their nature did not provide protection to the operators. A few changes were made to the ballistic design to make it safer. This led to the establishment of its derivatives;

  • ACH: Advanced Combat Helmet and
  • ECH: Enhanced Combat Helmet

From the time of their establishment up to date, the MICH and its derivatives have made the PASGT helmets obsolete. All branches of the US Army Service use these helmets in some capacity.

US Marine with MICH Combat Helmet

Design elements of the Modular Integrated Communications Helmet

Below are some design elements of this helmet series:

  • The MICH helmet features a weight of about 2.5 - 3.5 pounds for small to extra large sizes, respectively. Note that the product is smaller than the PASGT-helmet because it eliminated the brow and the sides are slightly more raised. Some claim that the size features 8% less coverage than its counterparts.
  • It employs advanced Kevlar technology, which provides advanced protection against handgun or splinter injuries. Kevlar is a type of synthetic fiber with good heat-resistant and strong synthetic elements.
  • The helmets feature a four-point retention and pad system like the one found on modern riding and white-water helmets. This element replaces the nylon cord suspension system. Chinstrap and sweatband were featured in the PASGT-helmet design. These changes make the MICH significant impact protection. It also offers better comfort.
  • It is designed in such a way that it allows you to fit a mounting bracket for night vision devices or protective eyewear.

The MICH helmet versions

Below are the main MICH helmet variants:

MICH 2000

This variant was originally designed for US troops in combat. MSA developed them, and they are quite similar to the ECH design. The primary design element that makes this product different from other variants is that it features a baseline or full-cut design. It has four-point chin straps and seven pads that are worn inside.

MICH-2000 Helmet

MICH 2001

This design features a second cut known as the high cut. This design removes all ear protection. By doing so, it allows for more headset positions. This is because it was designed to provide the ultimate communications equipment compatibility. However, it also provides less side protection. This variant incorporates all the incredible features of the MICH helmet with added comfort and ballistic protection.

MICH 2001

The helmet still offers superior impact & fragmentation protection and reduced head borne weight. It also offers improved performance in all environmental conditions. It reduces the profile while optimizing peripheral vision and sensory awareness. The MICH 2001 features a removable pad suspension system with seven highly engineered pads. The pad suspension system minimizes shock loads and reduces the risk of non-ballistic injuries.

MICH 2002

This variant features the third cut known as the Gunfighter-Cut. The helmet features a raised area around the ears by at least half an inch. It allows for a wider range of headsets to be applied.

MICH 2002 Helmet

It also meets the profile of riding and whitewater helmets formerly used by the US special forces. This variant is currently used issues to Special Operations Groups in the US and a few other nations.

ACH (Advanced Combat Helmet)

This is the current US army tactical helmet since the mid-2000s. The US Army Soldier Systems Center developed the design. This organization collaborated with the US Army Special Operations Command, and the Army Research Lab of the US, and the variant was established to act as the next generation of protective helmets. It was designed to be used by American Ground forces. The helmet design was derived from the official MICH design.

The tactical helmet design was initially fielded in small numbers from 2002 until it eventually replaced its counterpart (the PASGT). The ACH features a shape that is identical to the MICH 2000 variant. It lacks a front brow so that it can improve upward visibility. This design element also allows easier mounting of night-vision goggle brackets. It also features raised side brims.

On the other hand, the lower brim is flat compared to its counterparts, with upward curves at the back. The brim design element allows for greater compatibility with communication headsets. It also helps improve hearing, especially when the wearer does not want to use headsets. Like the other MICH designs, the ACH uses modern Kevlar and Twaron ballistic fibers.

ACH Combat Helmet

In 2007, a novel ballistic nape pad was attached to the rear suspension of the AHC-helmet. At the same time, an improved tactical vest was introduced. These elements were introduced to help reduce soldier fatalities due to fragmentation wounds around the neck and lower head. Note that these helmets are also lightweight. There is a more lightweight advanced war helmet generation II variant that weighs less than two pounds coming. It does so without eliminating the ballistic protection.

The incredible design and features of this MICH helmet variant design have made its use popular among all branches of the US Army and other parts of the world. The AHC design is also used by all branches of the Australian Defense Force, Response Group, and Federal police. It is also used by Iraqi commandos, the Mexican army, the New Zealand Defense Force, and the YAMAM of Israel.

EHC (Enhanced Combat Helmet)

The ECH is a US Army program. It aims to replace battle helmets used by the US Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines. The development of this variant began in 2007 under the Army Manufacturing Technology Program. A lot of money has been invested in the development of this variant. In 2010, tests were conducted. Unfortunately, the results were not favorable since each helmet failed in ballistic tests. In 2012, Ceradyne was chosen to produce this variant. By 2013, 3850 EHC helmets were deployed for the US marines. Due to the helmets' incredible performance in combat, the marine corps intends to get more upon their return. ManTech program is currently in charge of making sure the helmet design is impeccable.

ECH - Enhanced Combat Helmet

This design uses thermoplastics as opposed to ballistic fibers used in other generation helmets. This design features a similar profile to the Advanced Helmet. However, it is thicker than its counterparts. They also use different chinstraps from the AHC design. It features a shell made using ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (PET). This material is meant to provide at least 35% more protection against fragmentation and small-arms fire than ACH. It is also meant to provide added protection from specific rifle projectiles. Note that this helmet is to feature a tactical cut type. This means that it offers less coverage while allowing better mobility. This feature makes it compatible with standard camouflage helmet covers. A V50 (VPAM) test showed that the helmet is nearly impenetrable by fragments from test guns.

Like its counterparts, this helmet design will allow for the mounting of additional communication and night-vision equipment. A few reports are showing that the army intends to use the same pads found on the ACH. This means a 7-pad system to cushion the whole helmet. This design features a 4-point chinstrap to provide enhanced head retention. However, the army and marine variants use the X-back retention and H-back retention system, respectively.

 

x-strap boa-closure helmet strap

Other than the United States Marine Corps, the Philippines Forces also bought more than three thousand helmets in December 2017. The Philippines also submitted a bid for more than eleven thousand helmets. The ECH design is set to replace ACH used by the US Marine Corps. It is also set to replace the ACH and MICH 2000 helmets used by the US Army, Air Force, and Navy.

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