Helicopter Crew Protection

SHAH ALAM: AS previously reported we are getting four ex-Brunei Blackhawk helicopters most likely this September – once the most important stuff are finalised and is paid off. We are also supposed to take delivery two out of six MD530G light scout attack helicopters by year end.

Both helicopters are to be based in Semporna forward operating base, armed to the hilt just in case another intrusion take place. It is for this reason, we must look at how to protect the helicopter crews. Both the Blackhawks and MD530G will be armoured – though how much remained classified.

MD530G test aircraft.
MD530G test aircraft.

However due to the nature of operations, the crew of these helicopters could still be targeted by the bad guys. It is unlikely that they will face MANPADS but there is a possibility they could be targeted by shooters armed with 5.56/7.62mm rifles and even the ubiquitous laser pointer devices.

A gunner on a US Army Blackhawk. Note the helmet and the maxillofacial shield.
A gunner on a US Army Blackhawk. Note the helmet and the maxillofacial shield.

Apart from body armour, the crew could also wear protective helmets for operations. As both of these helicopters are American-made, it is likely the crews will be equipped with the Gentex Corporation HGU-56/P Rotary Wing Helmet System. These helmets could be easily fitted with additional equipment like a Maxillofacial Shield (MFS) and Dazzle Laser Defence Devices, also made by Gentex.

RBAF S-70A Blackhawk helicopter.  USAF photo
RBAF S-70A Blackhawk helicopter. USAF photo

From Gentex Corportation

“HGU-56/P & 84/P Maxillofacial Shield

The Gentex Maxillofacial Shield (MFS) safeguards the wearer’s lower face from rotor wash, flying debris, and windblast during helicopter operations. An optional upgrade to Gentex’s HGU-56/P or HGU-84/P Rotary Wing Helmets, the MFS can also be easily fitted to the Gentex HGU-55/P Rotary Wing Helmet for airlift operations.

The Gentex Maxillofacial Shield (MFS) safeguards the wearer’s lower face from rotor wash, flying debris, and wind-blast during helicopter operations. Gentex
The Gentex Maxillofacial Shield (MFS) safeguards the wearer’s lower face from rotor wash, flying debris, and wind-blast during helicopter operations. Gentex

The protective shield attaches to the helmet with a complete installation kit, weighs less than five ounces, and offers an interface between shield and visor that reduces wind on the face. The shield also offers ballistic fragmentation protection up to 550 feet per second (fps).

Dazzle Laser Defense Visors

Gentex Laser Dazzler Defence Device
Gentex Laser Dazzler Defence Device

To combat emerging laser threats that may be encountered by pilots during critical phases of flight, Gentex has developed a line of laser protective flight-helmet mounted visors. Leveraging decades of experience with military laser eye protection, the Gentex Dazzle Laser Defense Visors can be used by aviators including law enforcement, customs and border patrol, and emergency services.
The perfect choice to combat the hazards of low-intensity lasers without compromising visual acuity, Dazzle Visors are available for the Gentex HGU-56/P and SPH-5 Rotary Wing Aircrew Helmet Systems. Offered in day and night versions, with lenses designed to maintain see-through color perception.

Gentex HGU-56/P Aircrew Ballistic Helmet (ABH) System
Gentex HGU-56/P Aircrew Ballistic Helmet (ABH) System

Gentex also offers an aircrew ballistic helmet, the HGU-56/P Aircrew Ballistic Helmet (ABH) System. The ABH system provides the identical form, fit and function of the standard Gentex HGU-56/P Rotary Wing Aircrew Helmet, with 110% greater ballistic protection. Innovative materials and processes have been adopted to provide unprecedented ballistic and impact protection.

A US Army Blackhawk crew chief with his personal protection equipment including Maxillofacial Shield. US Army photo
A US Army Blackhawk crew chief with his personal protection equipment including Maxillofacial Shield. US Army photo

Perhaps the flight crew helmets for the Blackhawks will come free of charge from Brunei, though we may need to pay to get the MFS and the laser dazzler defence devices. If its not, its small change to ensure the safety of our aircrew including those of the MD530G.

With the Defence Ministry trumpeting welfare as one of its main 2016 direction, procuring these protective devices should be seen as important as raising wages.

Salary hikes. H20 Comms
Salary hikes. H20 Comms

Though I admit salary hikes are great attention grabber.

— Malaysian Defence

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