New Ballistic Helmets for the Army

Army FAST helmet with side armor.

SHAH ALAM: New Ballistic Helmets for the Army. At the DSA 2016, among others, the Defence Ministry announced an RM45.9 million contract to Usahawan PSE Sdn Bhd, for the supply of FAST ballistic helmets. As I was overwhelmed with  other things, I was unable to get more details on the contract.

Courtesy of BTDM Online, we now know that the FAST helmets have been issued to the 7 Rejimen Renjer Di Raja (Mek) or 7RRD, the current Ready to Deploy battalion. As mentioned in the post, the unit was supposed to undergo an inspection from the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Office (UN DPKO) this week.

7 RRD soldiers at the ready during the UN inspection. BTDM

I had asked permission to cover the inspection but was advised that it was not open to the media. So like the last time we are left with what the BTDM Online had posted on its Facebook page.

A close up of the FAST helmets. The black part over the ear is the side armor.

During the pre-inspection two weeks ago, the soldiers wore their berets but for the UNDPKO inspection, they wore their new helmets with complete with the side armour together with the Army digital camo cover and body armor. As the contract stated that the new ballistic helmets are the Future Advanced Shell Technology (FAST) helmets, it is likely that the helmets photographed are the Ops Core Fast XP High Cut Helmet.

FAST XP helmet with side armor. Ops Core.

Apart from being lighter from the traditional US ACH helmets, these FAST helmets are favoured by many special operators as it was designed from the start for a plethora of accessories.

7 RRD soldiers during the UN DPKO inspection

The FAST Helmets have a side-cut configuration that looks to be in-between the MSA MICH TC2001 and TC2002 ‘Gunfighter’ helmets; the sides of the helmet do not cover the ears so there is no interference with communications headsets or hearing protection. The Bump shell is made from lightweight carbon fiber. Injection molded plastic skateboard helmets are intended to provide protection against abrasion and knocks, while absorbing impacts with their internal liners. They are not designed to provide the structural integrity needed to comfortably support and stabilize night vision devices mounted on the front. The carbon fiber shell of the Bump helmet provides this structure, improves the impact dissipation, and helps the inner liner absorb more energy to reduce brain injuries from blunt trauma. The strength of the shell also provides crush resistance despite its very low weight.

The FAST is designed to be compatible with:

COMMs headphones or electronic hearing protection with top headband
Night Vision Devices
Weapon lights
Video cameras
Eye protection and visors
Face protection and shields
O2 masks
CBRN masks
Strobes
Battery packs

The FAST Helmet system is the first one designed from the ground up that takes all these different factors into consideration, and is designed to work with each of them, separately or in tandem.

The Army previous ballistic helmet. BTDM

I have no idea how many FAST helmets were bought with the RM45.9 million contract but I believed it will only be issued to the Army’s first tier units initially, with other units getting them as hand-me-downs in the near future. Although the new helmets are designed specifically for use with personal headsets – from the photographs we know those are not yet the standard equipment.

A retired soldier posed with a 12th RMR soldier who is part of the FSS Experimental Platoon in this picture taken in May, 2016. 12th RMR has been conducting user trials with the FSS since 2012.

Perhaps in the near future, the soldiers issued with the FAST helmets will be issued with the Army’s Future Soldier System. The helmet looked as if it was designed for the system.

— Malaysian Defence

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18 Comments

  1. Am wondering, what kind of body armour is issued to rank & file? Thank you.

    Reply
    I dont know the exact type or make.

  2. Assalamualaikum Marhalim,

    Are you sure RM 45.9 million not 4.59? 45 to 54k per piece a sure cost a lot..based on US army helmet recall in 2010 quoted..some USD 250 per piece..I know economic quantity and the specification is different but still is it justified?

    Reply
    I am pretty sure about the contract but as I mentioned I do not know the quantity that was bought. I stand to be corrected. BTW how do you managed to get the figure of 45k to 54K per helmet?

  3. 46 million ringgit would translate to roughly 10 million USD. Between shipment,admin cost as well as profits, I think 10 million dollars for a helmet that could withstand rifle shots (there’s a documentary about new gen helmet in discovery channel that shows these helmets could withstand rifle shots) that will given to the front lines sounds reasonable

    We have at least 4 military helmet manufacturers. I hope one of them could come up with a helmet with similar capability.

    Reply
    Actually the manufacturers are more likely to have gone crying to the Treasury bemoaning that the contract should have been given to them, as they could have managed to start local manufacturing of the helmets. They won’t come up with such capabilities without a contract in the first place

  4. Marhalim it depend based on what the number of first tier is.. if 750- 1000 that the cost I generate…hopefully i’m wrong…should more than 10,000 unit..you can google it FAST helmet you can buy in open market with side armour around USD 718

    Reply
    It should depend on the actual numbers bought, not the first batch only. No company can supply the full order at one go. I believed the number purchased will most likely be around 20,000 units, could be higher or lower. Ops Core website retail price is US$1330, for the helmet only.

  5. As I said before, we have several local manufacturers that could produce military helmets as well as body armors. I don’t really think everyone needed FAST-type helmets but since this helmet could stop rifle rounds from short range, I concur with the acquisition.

    The soldiers’ body armor is rated at level IIIA afaik (tho I doubt everyone is provided with hard plate), so I tend to think the grunts are adequately equipped and armed. Police, however, seems to use older body armor and since body armor do have its expiration date, I wonder if these body armor are used beyond its due date.

    btw Malaysian-made body armor did found some export success with australian army used them among others

  6. After the navy came up with a unic trend-setter approach with their 15 to 5 programme, now the army follow suited with FSS.

    Slow and steady evolution for Tentera Darat Malaysia is on the way.

    All the best.

  7. Based on $1330 per helmet and allocation around $10 million, around 7500 helmets. Roughly enough for 2 infantry battalions. ls the Army going for FAST as its standard combat helmet, replacing all ACH-styled helmet?

  8. @ nimitz

    7500 could equip 7-10 battalions actually.

    these type of helmets are ideal for mechanised troops as it is designed for the fitment of communication headsets. the previous helmet can fit earphones but not the full size headsets. i forsee this to be supplied to all mechanised/armoured formations first before going to the rest of the army.

  9. btw any latest news on the m109 sph marhalim?

    finland has agreed to buy 48 used k9 sph from south korea for usd155million. seems like south korea is opening up to selling used military equipment. maybe malaysia could look at used kifvs, howitzers, aav7 amphibious ifv for the mrss, patrol ships, aircrafts…

  10. Marhalim…apart from new FAST helmets…i observed some variant of the adnan with different sharpshooter turret and in diff camouflage pattern and its the newer batch as the registeration is ZC…did we ordered another batch or is it part of the last 48 ordered during DSA 2012

  11. … “these type of helmets are ideal for mechanised troops as it is designed for the fitment of communication headsets. the previous helmet can fit earphones but not the full size headsets. i forsee this to be supplied to all mechanised/armoured formations first before going to the rest of the army.”

    Mechanised troops may wear a headset when in the vehicle but they still have to change headsets or even helmets when they mount and dismount, so what helmet they wear is not so important.

    You have to define “previous helmet.” Older helmets since the PASGT and MICH times do accommodate headsets. The headset covers one ear and the harness is worn under the helmet.

  12. @ am

    the latest vsys-net of the gempita, which could be implemented army-wide mechanised and armoured units, have a common communication system whilst mounted and dismounted. that would need a helmet that could use the same communication systems while in the vehicle or outside.

    pasgt and mitch could use “earphones” but could not fit full size headsets with hard shells that covers the whole ears, as per what i said in my previous post. the fast helmet ear cutouts are especially designed to fit such full size headsets. tanker helmets are similarly designed to fit such headsets.

  13. To make my point, take a look at the soldier in the last picture. He’s wearing a helmet based on MICH which came in the late 90s. And he’s wearing a headset with a substantially sized ear piece on the other side. That headset-mouthpiece design is even older.

    The rails on his helmet make it look new, but such rails are sold separately. All you have to do is drill holes to screw it on. Mostly it’s airsift kids doing it, adding screws to your helmet can be fatal if it takes a ballistic hit.

  14. Way to go TD, This is a step in a right direction but I do hope TD come up with better Integrated Body Armour System that suits our soldiers size.

  15. Yes, the existing helmets are compatible with the ear cup in your pic. The helmet’s headband (or pads, whichever they may be) sit above the ear cups and headband as has been going on ever since the PASGT days.

    What’s going on with the new helmet is simply attaching the ear cup to the helmet instead. Has pros and cons in that it offers less protection and you have to wear the helmet in order to use the radio.

  16. Those are without a doubt not the Ops-core fast helmets. Just looking at the arc rails, the side ballistic armor plates are very much different. These are replica ballistic helmets manufactured by other sources like indonesia and china. just have a look at the side armor’s connection. on the actual ops-core helmet it uses a lever cam system for the vertical connector instead of a bolt on option. That’s kinda glaringly obvious. Plus the only ones that come with the snap in O2 mask connectors are the replica helmets. The rails are also waaay to glossy to be actual ops-core

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