Ballistic helmets – Czech Army to purchase 1,500 AirFrame Helmets

Ballistic helmets – Czech Army to purchase 1,500 AirFrame Helmets
Author: fb 43. výsadkový prapor Chrudim|Caption: 43rd Airborne Battalion
28 / 08 / 2018, 12:15

On Wednesday the Government will discuss a commission to purchase 1,500 ballistic AirFrame Helmets by Crye Precision at an estimated price of CZK 37 million (USD 1,7 million, vat excluded). The helmets are meant for the Czech Army’s troops which are part of the NATO Readiness Force (NRF), and would be supplied by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA), Capellen, Luxembourg. The Ministry of Defence is willing to purchase the helmets without public tendering, the agreement should be signed by the 31st October 2018.

1,500 advanced helmet systems with the capability to integrate personal radio, night vision goggles (NVG) and other equipment are to answer the Level IIIA of the STANAG 2920 ballistic protection standards (ability to stop fragments and shrapnel at V50≥700 m/s), and will be delivered with accessory equipment such as the AifFrame rails, NVG shroud, and the communication headset Pelton holder.

See also: New Czech Airborne Regiment

The NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) is a customer-funded agency, operating on a "no profit - no loss" basis. The NSPA is the executive body of the NATO Support and Procurement Organisation (NSPO). The Czech Army has already purchased AirFrame Helmets through the NSPA agency: 1100 helmets were provided by the Czech company Pramacom-HT at CZK 35 million (USD 1,6 million) in 2017. According to the Euro magazine there is an arrangement fee of 1.5 % of the total price to be payed for each contract to the NSPA.

The AirFrame Helmets are in use by the Czech Army’s 43rd Airborne Battalion (4th Rapid Deployment Brigade) and the 601st Special Forces Group since 2017, and are appreciated by the troops deployed in foreign missions. The AirFrame Helmet weight is reduced when compared to standard helmets, and it offers a very high ballistic coverage. By its alternative construction divided into the front and rear ballistic shells it offers also comfort in hot weather conditions. The standard solution by putting holes or vents in the shell of a ballistic helmet creates some risk, as it's always possible that very small fragments can enter through those openings and hit the wearer's head. AirFrame’s solution allows for passive cooling/ventilation thanks to the larger diameter of the front shell which overlaps the rear shall. The sides of the AirFrame do not cover the ears so there is no interference with communications headsets or hearing protection.

The exception from the law on public tendering and the purchase of helmets through the NSPA agency is allowed, according to the Ministry of Defence, by the fact that it’s an acquisition of military material ordered through an international organization to which the Czech Republic adhered according to an international treaty.  The NSPA agency uses special procedure rules, and the purchase is meant for international organization’s purpose. It’s because the helmets are destined for the Czech Army’s troops deployed within the NATO Readiness Force.

In case the commission is approved and the contract signed, the deliveries should take place during the first half of 2019.

See also: Modernization Projects of the Czech Army

The top priority, as announced by the Chief of General Staff Lieutenant General Opata in June, are the projects of immediate impact, including ballistic protection means, tactical equipment and night vision devices for the troops. These should be concluded before 2020, and the army should see shortage in this domain no more. The current acquisition of 1,500 AirFrame Helmets belongs among these projects.

The other troops of the Czech Army are using different types of helmets, like the PETRIS P-3001, which is a licensed version of the German Schuberth 826 helmet, made in the Czech Republic, the original Schuerth 826; or the Russian Kirasa BSh-E-1 helmets which were delivered in 2003 within the refund of the Russian debt, and none should be in service by now. The Active Reserve is still equiped with the M1953 steel helmet of the Czechoslovak People’s Army.

In spring 2018 the STV Group was chosen to supply new helmets for the Czech Army, having offered a price of CZK 8.600 (USD 388) apiece while the expected price was about CZK 20,000 (USD 900). New helmets, possibly of a new design by STV Group, should be delivered between 2018 and 2020.

Sources: militarymorons.com, iRozhlas, Euro

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