The slew of cables, headsets and mountable tactical gear for military helmets has the Corps looking for a new lightweight and integrated helmet for infantry Marines, according to Marine officials.
It’s being dubbed the integrated helmet system, or IHS, and the Corps posted its wish list for the new helmet June 4 on the government’s business opportunities website, FedBizOpps, seeking input from industry leaders.
The posting from Marine Corps Systems Command says the new helmet system is intended for “infantry and infantry-like Marines.”
“With the increased number of battery powered optics and other attachments to the helmet, the amount of exposed/unsecure wires and battery packs are increasing,” the FedBizOpps posting reads. “The Marine Corps is looking for an optimized configuration to allow power and/or data to flow to the attachments while minimizing bulk.”
According to details laid out in the posting, the Corps is seeking a lightweight helmet with a rail mounting system for tactical device attachments. The Corps also wants its new helmet to be compatible with headsets and night vision devices.
The desired weight of the helmet, according to the posting, is between 2.91 pounds for a small helmet, to 3.84 pounds for an extra-large.
The Corps’ push for a new helmet for grunts follows testing of various high- to mid-level cuts of the already fielded enhanced combat helmet, or ECH, by the Corps.
In 2018, the Marine Corps ordered nearly 200 Gentex Corp. ECH helmets with various cuts to test their compatibility with a range of new tactical headsets and hearing protection devices. Gentex is the maker of the iconic Ops-Core high-cut style helmet worn by special operations forces.
The high-cut Ops-Core helmet is also compatible with hearing protection devices like the Peltor headsets worn by Marine Raiders. The Corps is seeking to order thousands of new tactical headsets that will afford Marines hearing protections without losing communications and battlefield situational awareness.
Manny Pacheco, a spokesman for Marine Corps Systems Command, said the effort to design a new grunt helmet is aimed at improving “the integration of several current and future head-borne systems such as optics and hearing enhancement/protection devices.”
It’s been rumored for some time that the Corps was interested in fielding an Ops-Core style helmet to grunts. Some of the descriptions for the IHS match some of the features of the popular special operations helmet, such as the rail mount system for attachments like flashlights and strobes.
But Pacheco said the Corps has not “defined the style of the helmet” and will work with industry leaders and infantry Marines to design what the “future of ballistic helmets should look like.”
The ECH, which has been fielded to deploying Marines since 2014, was set to become the standard helmet for the Corps.
However, the new grunt helmet is not meant to be a “complete replacement” for the ECH, Pacheco said.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.