Batlskin: The Latest in Modular Head Protection

The modern theater of asymmetric warfare has changed our equipment, the ways we fight, and the ways we protect our soldiers. From ballistic underwear to MRAPs, our military has responded in countless ways to the warzone environments we’ve faced in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A third of all combat-related injuries requiring medical attention are traumatic brain injuries. Between 2001 and 2011, 320,000 soldiers suffered from TBIs–most of those  the result of improvised explosive devices.

The need to better protect our warfighters’ heads has become apparent in the last decade. As such, the advances in head protection have been significant. Helmets have become lighter, more comfortable, and offer higher performance. Revision Military, a leader in eye protection, has quickly become one of the leaders in the market for head protection.

Revision released its Batlskin helmet system earlier this year. Although it was a response to the growing need to offer greater protection against an increasing amount head injuries in the field, the Batlskin system was initially developed in response to a tender request from the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense. Not surprisingly, the request called for a system that could be mounted to existing shells.

In 2007, Revision began researching ways to provide advanced ballistic, blast and blunt-force protection to a soldier’s head in modern combat environments. The end product needed to be scalable, modular, and tailorable to specific mission needs. Mass production of the system had to be cost effective, and it had to fit as many soldiers as possible. The system also had to be lightweight without any compromise to performance or function.

Revision invested five years of research and testing into the development and production of the Batlskin system and its own high-grade polyethylene helmet shell, the Batlskin Cobra. The system, available for both existing ACH-style helmet shells and the Cobra shell, includes a visor, mandible guard and multipurpose front mount. Through the testing and development, a toroidal-shaped visor model was favored for its ability to provide undistorted optics while at the same time giving the wearer maximum protection.

“The result,” according to Brian Dowling, soldier systems program manager in the US, “is the first fully modular and fully integrated head-protection system of its kind, offering lightweight wearability for peak performance with full protection from blunt force, blast and ballistic threats.”

With less than a year in the field, the BATLSKIN system is proving its worth. The system has been easy to integrate and easy to use. While it’s suitability for mounted soldiers was immediately apparent, additional training for firing a shoulder-mounted weapon, and learning to cope with the system’s effect of peripheral vision is necessary for infantry to make of the most of this enhanced protection.

Revision continues to refine the system, researching ways to increase ballistic properties while keeping it lightweight, easy to use and affordable.

 

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