The US Army has awarded two low-rate initial production (LRIP) contracts to Ceradyne, a 3M company, for next-generation helmet systems and hard body armour inserts.
The contracts have been awarded as part of the integrated head protection system (IHPS) and vital torso protection (VTP) – enhanced small arms protective inserts (ESAPI) components of the soldier protection system (SPS).
Under the first $7m LRIP contract, Ceradyne will deliver more than 5,300 IHPS helmet systems to the army.
As part of the second LRIP contract, valued at $36m, the company will produce more than 30,000 ESAPI.
Production of both IHPS helmet systems and ESAPI components is expected to start next year.
3M Advanced Ceramics Platform – Defense business manager Cheryl Ingstad said: “The SPS programme represents the highest level of lightweight technology to date. Our focus from the onset has been to meet the army’s stringent specifications for the SPS, and that will continue as we move into initial production.
“As a leading science company, 3M has deep expertise in advanced lightweight materials, which, combined with our proven production history, differentiates our defence offerings.”
The IHPS designed by the army will give a lighter-weight ballistic helmet system to soldiers, as well as provide passive hearing protection and increased blunt-impact performance.
With various accessories, this helmet system also includes a mandible, visor and night vision goggle attachment device.
The contract for VTP is in addition to a previous $34m award, for a total of $70m on the VTP LRIP contract.
Set to replace the army’s existing personal protective equipment (PPE) system, the SPS has been designed to defeat current threats and provide an overall weight reduction for soldiers.