Marine Corps Systems Command has purchased 89,000 sets of combat helmet suspension pads for immediate fielding. Previously, a sling suspension system had been fielded for Marine Corps combat helmets.
Early results of testing between the pad suspension system and the sling suspension system for Marine Corps and Army helmets indicate pads offer more protection. The Marine Corps and the Army recently participated in the Congressionally directed, independent, non-ballistic tests through the Department of Defense. In these tests, conducted by the U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Lab, the pad system demonstrated greater non-ballistic blunt impact protection.
The Marine Corps and the Army fully agree as to the positive results of the tests. In light of this, the Marine Corps announced that the pad suspension system is now the only authorized suspension system for Marine Corps Helmets. Further, only pad suspension systems purchased by the Marine Corps via the supply system are authorized for use. These pad suspension systems are also used by the Army. Units will exchange their sling suspension system when the operational situation permits.
The Marine Corps had already approved the use of pads prior to the tests, and while these tests were underway, Marine Expeditionary Forces, in coordination with Marine Corps Systems Command, procured 39,000 sets of padded helmet suspension systems to meet immediate operational needs. MARCORSYSCOM purchased an additional 50,000 sets of pad suspension systems, which have been delivered to the Consolidated Issue Facilities and the Critical Asset Rapid Distribution Facility. The command also placed an order for 50,000 more.
Prior to the testing by the Army Aeromedical Research Lab, the Marine Corps completed tests at the University of Virginia and shared the results with the Army. These tests assessed the risk of ballistic induced backface trauma, and the results showed no significant difference between the sling suspension system and the pad suspension system.
The Marine Corps and the Army will continue to work together to ensure helmets provide optimal protection for Marines and soldiers in the field. We acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of “Operation Helmet” for their support in bringing these issues to the forefront.