There was a story in USA Today on Monday about a study recently completed by LLNL and sponsored by JIEDDO that showed just an eighth inch increase in pad thickness in military helmets would garner 24 percent increase in impact protection.
"We found that with a small increase in pad thickness, there was an enormous effect on impact mitigation," said Dr. William Moss, co-author of the Livermore study. "It turns out it's just sort of a sweet spot with current pad sizing."The Army said "thanks for the research, but there's more to protecting the noggin than pads...
Increasing pad thickness beyond 1/8th of an inch "would have no effect," Moss added.
Engineers aren't just trying to block knocks to the head, argued PEO Soldier commander Brig. Gen. Pete Fuller, they're also trying to deflect bullets and mitigate blasts."I'm encouraged by the data, and now we have to find out what the data means," he added.
"We're trying to protect against blunt, blast and ballistic," Fuller said at an April 19 Pentagon press conference. "When you think of those three things, we need to understand the cause and the effect, and then what's the mitigation."
Fuller cited a Natick study completed last summer that showed testers hated having more padding because it meant a bigger, more awkward helmet.
(I can't find a digital version of the report. If anyone can help, I'll upload it here. It's called Human Systems Integration Assessment of the Advanced Combat Helmet on Fit, Comfort and Stability)
This has prompted the Army to go deeper into fundamental changes to helmet design and geometry. In the near term, the service is sponsoring an industry day May 10 to see what companies out there have in terms of advances in pad design and suspension systems (the Natick study showed test subjects like the "X" style retention system over the currently-issued "H" style one and that movement data showed less lateral movement through obstacles with an "X" style strap).