Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops

U.S. soldiers wearing the PASGT helmet

Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops, sometimes abbreviated to PASGT, was a combat helmet and ballistic vest used by the American military from the mid 1980s until 2005, when the system was succeeded by the Lightweight Helmet, Modular Integrated Communications Helmet, and Interceptor body armor.

Contents

Helmet

Members of 173rd Airborne Brigade wearing PASGT helmets.

The Personnel Armor System Ground Troops Helmet, most commonly known as the "Kevlar", but also referred to as the "K-pot" (an update of the colloquial term "steel pot" for the M1 steel combat helmet in use from WWII until the 1980s) and less commonly the "Fritz" helmet for its resemblance to the World War II German army helmet, is a standard infantry combat wear in the U.S. Military. The shell is made from 29 layers of Kevlar, a ballistic aramid fabric treated with a phenolic resin system and is rated at a Threat Level II, and offers protection against shrapnel and ballistic threats. It meets the 1800 requirement of MIL-STD-662 E. It weighs from 3.1 lb (1,410 g) (size extra small) to 4.2 lb (1,910 g) (extra large).

The PASGT Helmet was developed in 1975 and replaced the steel M1 Helmet in US service during the 1980s. It first saw use in combat in 1983 during Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada, became standard issue for the armed forces in 1985, and completely replaced by the M1 Helmet by the end of the decade. The PASGT Helmet is currently being phased out by the Modular Integrated Communications Helmet (MICH) in U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force service and the Lightweight Helmet (LWH) in USMC and U.S. Navy service.

The PASGT Helmet is typically olive drab in color and can be fitted with cloth helmet covers in varying camouflage patterns, which have included M81 Woodland, six-color desert, and three-color desert (as shown above), solid black (for SWAT teams), as well as the new Marine Corps MARPAT and Army UCP designs. The helmet is also used by various SWAT teams, wherein it is often black with or without covering, as well as by various United Nations Peacekeeping forces where it is often painted robin's egg blue to match the UN flag. When worn with a helmet cover, it is also often fitted with a band around it that has two reflective patches (sometimes known as cat eyes) on the rear intended to reduce friendly fire incidents. These bands are also used to hold vegetation or small personal items, as with the M1 helmet before it during the later decades of its service life. These bands can also have names and/or blood types printed on them to help identify the wearer. Some PASGT helmets also featured a patch with the wearer's rank insignia on it stitched to the front, and/or a second patch showing the symbol of his/her unit on the sides.

Available add-ons include a Helmet Mount Assembly that allows attachment of NE-6015 (AN/PVS-14 MNVD) or F5001B (AN/PVS-7B) night vision goggles. It can also be fitted with an acrylic glass visor for use in riot control operations.

In a demonstration of the Heckler & Koch MP7 on the Discovery Channel show Future Weapons, a PASGT helmet suffered a catastrophic armor penetration when hit head-on with one round of the MP7's 4.6x30mm ammunition. Similarly, the firearms testing site The Box o' Truth has reported that a 7.62x25mm Tokarev fired from a ČZ vz. 52 handgun was able to penetrate the helmet at 25 feet (7.6 m). In the same test, both the 5.56x45mm NATO and the 7.62x39mm were able to yield catastrophic penetrations through both sides of the helmet.[1]

Vest

US Navy seabee wearing a PASGT vest and helmet while qualifying with an M203 grenade launcher.

The Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops Vest, also known as the "flak vest", was the United States Military's standard upper torso body armor from the early 1980s until approximately 2004, when it was replaced by the Interceptor body armor. The PASGT Vest replaced the Vietnam War-era M-69 Fragmentation Protective Body Armor nylon vest, which in turn replaced the Korean War-era M-1952A Fragmentation Protective Body Armor. The PASGT Vest used Kevlar for the first time in the United States military's body armor, unlike the ballistic nylon used in the previous two models. While incapable of stopping rifle bullets, the PASGT Vest provided better protection against shrapnel and reduced the severity of injuries from small arms fire when compared to the M-69. Anecdotally, it provides roughly level IIIA ballistic protection, not accounting for blunt force injuries, stopping rounds as powerful as a .44 magnum from a handgun[2] in certain test methodologies, while being penetrated by 9mm FMJ in others.[3] Despite this, the vest was only ever designed or intended to stop small fragments without injury to the user; NIJ class 1 protection might be a more accurate assessment, were back-face deformation measured. The PASGT Vest weighed approximately 9 lb (4,080 g), a small increase over the previous model.

In order to provide protection against high velocity bullets, the PASGT Vest was, in 1996, combined with the Interim Small Arms Protective Overvest (ISAPO) pending adoption of Interceptor body armor. The ISAPO weighed about 16.5 lb (7,480 g) and consisted of a carrier to hold two protective ceramic plate inserts. A PASGT armor system with overvest weighed more than 25 lb (11,340 g) and was criticized by many US troops as unacceptably cumbersome in combat. The ballistic fill consists of 13 plies of 14 oz. water repellent treated Aramid (Kevlar 29) fabric. The inner and outer cover, shoulder pads and front closure flap of the vest are water repellent treated 8 oz. ballistic nylon cloth. While phased out as frontline body armor by the time of the 2003 Iraq War, some Army units would use old PASGT Vests as makeshift armor for their vehicles in the absence of purpose-made up-armor kits.

Users

Armies

Law Enforcement

Others

Variants

SPECTRA Helmet
German Gefechtshelm („battle helmet“)
Variant Name Origins Used by
SPECTRA helmet  France used by the Danish Army, French Army and Canadian Forces
Lightweight Helmet  United States used by the United States Marine Corps
Modular Integrated Communications Helmet  United States used by the United States Army
JK 96a Light Steel Helmet and JK 96b Light Steel Helmet  People's Republic of China Chinese PASGT used by People's Liberation Army
C-1 Kevlar Helmet used by Singapore Armed Forces
VestGuard (Kevlar and M88 version)  United Kingdom
OE TECH TACTICAL  People's Republic of China replica only
NDH 2001 and 2006  People's Republic of China Norinco produces two types of PASGT type helmets targeting police
Gefechtshelm Schuberth B826  Germany used by the Bundeswehr, Swiss Army, Dutch Army, and Estonian Defence Forces
Type 88 Helmet  Japan Used by the Japan Self-Defense Forces and Japan Coast Guard

See also

References

External links


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