Enhanced Combat Helmet (ECH)
The U.S. Army has ordered another 60,000 MICH (Modular Integrated Communications Helmet) helmets. Formerly called the Gallet, after the designer, and now known as the FAST ballistic helmet, the manufacturer has long been known for designing helmets for fire, police, and rescue personnel. When first issued to troops eight years ago the MICH was 14 percent lighter (at 1.36 kg/3 pounds) and more comfortable than the 1980s era PASGT. MICH was most appreciated because it can be worn for long periods without becoming uncomfortable. The latest models are even more comfortable, with an improved interior that also offers more protection against bumps and explosions. . .Advanced Combat Helmet (ACH)Inspired by the success of MICH, a version of the helmet was renamed ACH (Advanced Combat Helmet) and ordered in large quantities. Last year an improved version, ECH (Enhanced Combat Helmet) showed up. The U.S. Army and Marine Corps found that their new ECH was even more bullet proof than expected. While testing the ECH it was discovered that the machine firing metal fragments at the ECH (to represent shell and bomb fragments) could not fire fragments fast enough to penetrate. The ECH was supposed to be invulnerable to pistol bullets, and it was, but some types of metal fragments were expected to still be dangerous. So ECH was tested to see how well it could resist high-powered rifle bullets. ECH was not 100 percent invulnerable but in most cases it would stop anything fired from a sniper rifle. Overall, it was calculated that the ECH was 40 percent more resistant to projectiles and 70 percent stronger than the previous ACH helmet.The ECH made use of a new thermoplastic material (UHMWP or Ultra-High Molecular Weight Polyethylene), which is also used in the current FAST helmet. UHMWP is lighter and stronger than the Kevlar used in the ACH and earlier PASGT and, it turned out, provided much better protection as well. The ECH began replacing the ACH last year, with 200,000 to be purchased. The ECH costs $600 each, twice as much as the ACH. But for troops under fire, the additional cost is well worth it.
PASGT Helmet, aka "K-Pot," "Kraut Helmet," etc.
I have previously posted on this subject in a Helmet Tutorial in 2009.
Lots of K-Pots are out there on the legal surplus market, few ACHs and NO ECHs. The Army's CID is very careful these days to track down missing state-of-the-art gear, especially electronic sights, night vision, ESAPI plates and ECHs. There are also federal police trolls out there who go from shop to shop, trying to entrap folks into buying such gear. Caveat emptor.
Oregon Aero PASGT-to-MICH conversion pads.
That said, the available K-Pots can be cut down to MICH pattern with a Dremel tool and made more comfortable. They can also be upgraded with a new suspension system from Oregon Aero. The up-grade kits are not cheap, however, and militia poster "Tire Iron's" tutorial on the K-Pot to MICH downsizing by Dremel seems to have disappeared from the Net. (If anyone has one stored electronically, or has Tire Iron's email address, please forward it.)
Oregon Aero PASGT-to-MICH conversion with pads and chinstrap.