Helicopter Crew Protection

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

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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6 Comments

  1. Ok a great idea. Rather limiting the helmet to just “gunship operator” why not get some for Esscom’s nuri & caracal.

    By year end, are we going to have a new heli squadron in PUTD to house both MD530G & S-70?

    Reply
    I am not sure whether the MFS can fit to the 725 or Nuri flight crew helmets that’s why I did not mentioned them.
    As for the new squadron it’s easier for them to stood one up under the ESSCOM brigade which is being stood up instead of under PUTD. That way they can get the positions (Perjawatan), ranks and the funding to pay for all perks and other stuff almost immediately. If they go through PUTD they probably have to borrow the positions and ranks from other units for some time. That’s the reason they stood up a new squadron at RMAF for new planes as all of the positions at the retired squadrons had been farmed out across the service. The Army does the same thing. PSD takes a long time to come up with new positions so the services have to do what they can.

  2. Is the offer from bell/deftech for ah-1z viper and uh-1y venom for our putd? And can the uh-1y uses this helmet system?

    Reply
    Of course it is they just need the funding. It’s likely that helmets are the same for the US Marines helicopters

  3. I don’t see how come 6 LASH & 4 UH not fall under PUTD jurisdiction, instead it becomes Esscom Sqn no. 1 (LASH) and Sqn no.2 (UH)? I assume 2 squadrons according to heli type. Of course I have not see any new squadron for PUTD’s utility heli.

    Reply
    Yes they could set up a new squadron for the two helicopters under PUTD. The new sqn for PUTD is the 882 set up for the Nuri helicopters and announced during the Army 83rd anniversary

  4. Apart from stuff like ballistic paneling and ballistic helmets; crash seats would also be useful to have. We were extremely lucky in that the ”Royal Sulu Army” [compared to other non state actors from the Philippines] was badly armed. From open sources we know that they had some M14s and M-16A1s [both common to non state actors in the Philippines such as the MNLF, MILF, BIFF, NPA and ASG] but it’s telling that they also had to rely on home made shotguns. At an exhibition held in Dataran Merdeka, the RMR displayed some captured ”Royal Sulu Army” items including a home made shotgun.

    In the past, there were reports of the MNLF getting some SA-7s courtesy of Gaddafi and there is an unconfirmed report of a PAF jet getting hit by an SA-7. The fact remains however that the MNLF [even at the height of the civil war in the 1970’s] and the MILF have had a pretty dismal record in shooting down PAF aircraft; but then again both organisations have very few HMGs and even if they have lots of HMGs there question is whether they have AA mounts. Their best chance of damaging low flying aircraft are M-60s which is commonly used by all the non state actors. The MNLF trains M-60 gunners to useM-60s in the AA role by lying on one’s back and gripping the bipod to one’s feet [naturally this is not a very effective or practical method]. Although the goons at Lahad Dato did not have M-60s they could obtain some.

    The good news for us is that the RPG-7s supplied by Gaddafi to the MNLF have time expired and that reports of the ASG producing RPG warheads appear to false. Another possibility are Barretts being used against low flying helicopters. There were reports of Barretts being used by the MILF [which could be obtained by the ”Royal Sulu Army”] at Mamasapano in which 44 policemen died : this incident off course led to the death of the BBL which we and Aquino were hoping see finalised.

    It must be pointed out however that there is no standing ‘Royal Sulu Army” : it’s ”members” who were at Lahad Dato were actually former or current members of the MNLF and MILF or loosely affiliated to both organisations; as well as others motivated to the cause by political or financial reasons. Off course if the so called ”Sultan” decides to have another go at us again, finding volunteers won’t be a problem as he’ll be relying on clan ties and cash to draw in volunteers. The question however is how any volunteers he can get and whether they can be better armed than than those who previously came.

  5. Azlan,
    “Another possibility are Barretts being used against low flying helicopters. There were reports of Barretts being used by the MILF”

    I was shown a picture of a group of filipino rebels, in the picture I saw a couple of them posing with M82s with no scope attached. I ask the person where did they find such weapon, she told me they were donated by a local donor (local here means filipino). I asked her whether they use this weapon often, pointing out that the ammunition is expensive and she said that the group has many gunsmiths who were trained in Basilan by a master gunsmith from Cebu who could provide them with ammunitions and small arms such as pistols and shotguns. As a disclaimer, I can’t vouch for the authenticity of her remarks as she is prone to lying. But the picture is legit yet i’m not sure from which outfit they were, she said they were abu sayyaf which I took it with a pinch of salt.

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