Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops

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United States Army soldiers from the Hawaii Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve wear PASGT helmets during a going-away ceremony in March 2004, as they prepare to leave for the War in Afghanistan.

Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops (PASGT; pronounced pass-GET), is a combat helmet and ballistic vest that was used by the United States military from the mid-1980s until the mid-2000s (decade), when the helmet and vest were succeeded by the Lightweight Helmet, Modular Integrated Communications Helmet, and Interceptor body armor.

Name[edit]

PASGT, is an initialism, standing for Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops. When used by itself, PASGT, refers to both the vest and helmet, together.

In the U.S. military, the PASGT helmet was most commonly known by its wearers as simply, the "Kevlar". The nickname has since been adopted for usage with other helmets. The PASGT helmet was also referred to by its wearers in the U.S. military, as the "K-pot", similar in name to the colloquial nickname "steel pot" for the M1 steel helmet, which was in widespread U.S. military usage from the 1940s, to the 1970s. The PASGT helmet was also, but less commonly, known by its wearers as the "Fritz" helmet, for its striking resemblance to the Stahlhelm helmet, which was the standard helmet used by the German military forces in the First and Second World War.

On the other hand, the PASGT vest was colloquially known as the "flak vest" by its wearers in the U.S. military.

Helmet[edit]

In December 2003, U.S. Army soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, wear their PASGT helmets as they pull security on the streets of Al Hawijah, Iraq. The soldiers are in Al Hawijah in support of Operation Bayonet Lightning, a counter-insurgency operation that was held by coalition forces during the early stages of the Iraq War, to help locate and question suspected persons of interest in the city.

The Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops Helmet is a standard infantry combat wear in the U.S. military. The shell is made from 19 layers of Kevlar, a ballistic aramid fabric treated with a phenolic resin system and is rated at a Threat Level IIIA as per DARPA, USMC and USA and offers protection against shrapnel and ballistic threats. It meets the 1800 requirement of MIL-STD-662 E. It weighs from 3.1 lb (1,410 g) (size extra small) to 4.2 lb (1,910 g) (extra large).

Overview[edit]

The PASGT helmet is typically olive drab in color and can be fitted with cloth helmet covers, which come in a wide array of varying camouflage patterns, including, but not limited to, Woodland, six-color desert, three-color desert, and winter/snow white, solid black, for tactical police applications, as well as the U.S. Marine Corps's MARPAT and the U.S. Army's Universal Camouflage Pattern.

The PASGT helmet is also used by various SWAT teams, where it is often black in color, with or without covering. It is also used by United Nations Peacekeeping forces where it is often painted United Nations blue to match the colors of the United Nations flag.

When worn with a helmet cover, the PASGT helmet is also often fitted with a band around it that has two light recharging glow patches (sometimes known as cat eyes) on the rear intended to reduce friendly fire incidents. These bands are also used to hold vegetation or small personal items, as with the M1 helmet before it, during the later decades of its service life. These bands can also have names and/or ABO blood types printed on them to help identify the blood type the wearer in case a blood transfusion is required as a result of blood loss due to wounds received on the battlefield. In the U.S. Army, PASGT helmets often featured a patch with the wearer's rank insignia on it stitched onto the front, and/or a second patch showing the symbol of the wearer's unit on the sides.

Development[edit]

The PASGT helmet was developed in 1975 and replaced the steel M1 helmet in U.S. military service during the 1980s. It first saw use in combat in 1983 during Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada, and became standard issue for the U.S. military in 1985, and completely replaced the M1 helmet for frontline troops by the end of the decade.

Accessories[edit]

There are various available add-on accessories for the PASGT helmet, including:-

Reliability[edit]

In a demonstration of the Heckler & Koch MP7 on the Discovery Channel show Future Weapons, a PASGT helmet suffered a catastrophic armor penetration when hit head-on with one round of the MP7's 4.6x30mm ammunition. Similarly, an informal firearms testing website has reported that a 7.62x25mm Tokarev fired from a ČZ vz. 52 handgun was able to penetrate the helmet at 25 feet (7.6 m). In the same test, both the 5.56x45mm NATO and the 7.62x39mm were able to yield catastrophic penetrations through both sides of the helmet.[1]

Replacement[edit]

The PASGT helmet was replaced in U.S. military service by the Lightweight Helmet for the Marines (2009) and Modular Integrated Communications Helmet which led to the Advanced Combat Helmet which the US Army currently uses. Both the Marines and Army are looking at yet another helmet replacement: the Enhanced Combat Helmet (United States) with distribution to start in 2014. However, the PASGT helmet currently serves a number of US Allies overseas and still sees some limited use in the U.S. military as of the early 2010s, where it serves as one of various helmets for sailors assigned to duty on board U.S. Navy vessels, as well as use in some Marine units suffering from funding issues.[2]

Usage by civilians[edit]

The PASGT helmet and its many derivative variants have become popular with civilian news media reporters and journalists reporting from war zones across the world, who will often wear them, should the situation warrant the usage of a helmet. Additionally private militias also use them from time to time.

Vest[edit]

The vest of Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops was the United States military's standard upper torso body armor from the mid-1980s up until the early 2000s (decade), when it was replaced by the Outer Tactical Vest of the Interceptor Body Armor system. The PASGT vest replaced the M-69 Fragmentation Protective Body Armor nylon vest that was used during the Vietnam War, which in turn replaced the M-1952A Fragmentation Protective Body Armor that was used during the Korean War.

PASGT vest in use by US troops during the invasion of Grenada in 1983, the first combat usage of the PASGT system.
A US Navy sailor wearing a PASGT vest


The PASGT vest utilized Kevlar for the first time in United States military body armor, unlike the ballistic nylon that was used in the models of body armor that preceded it. While generally incapable of stopping rifle bullets, the PASGT vest provided better protection against shrapnel and reduced the severity of injuries from small arms fire when compared to the M-69. Despite its ability to stop pistol rounds, including 9x19 Parabellum FMJ,[3] the vest was only ever designed or intended to stop small fragments without injury to the user. The PASGT Vest weighed approximately 9 lb (4,080 g), a small increase over the previous model.

Accessories and usage[edit]

In order to provide protection against high velocity bullets, the PASGT vest was, in 1996, combined with the Interim Small Arms Protective Overvest (ISAPO) pending the adoption of Interceptor body armor. The ISAPO weighed about 16.5 lb (7,480 g) and consisted of a carrier to hold two protective ceramic plate inserts. A PASGT armor system with overvest weighed more than 25 lb (11,340 g) and was criticized by many U.S. troops as unacceptably cumbersome in combat. The ballistic fill consists of 13 plies of 14 oz. water repellent treated Aramid (Kevlar 29) fabric. The inner and outer cover, shoulder pads and front closure flap of the vest are water repellent treated 8 oz. ballistic nylon cloth.

While phased out as frontline body armor by the start of the Iraq War in 2003, it saw some limited wear and usage by United States military personnel during the early stages of the war, where some U.S. Army soldiers would utilize old PASGT vests as makeshift armor as protection for their vehicles in the absence of purpose-made, designated up-armor kits.

Replacement[edit]

The PASGT vest was replaced in U.S. military service by the Outer Tactical Vest of the Interceptor Body Armor system, which was, in turn, partly replaced by the Modular Tactical Vest, Improved Outer Tactical Vest, and Scalable Plate Carrier. However, the PASGT vest still sees some limited use in the U.S. military as of the early 2010s, where it serves as one of many vests for sailors assigned to duty on board U.S. Navy vessels.[4]

Users[edit]

Military[edit]

Civilian law enforcement[edit]

In 2014, due to lack of adequate protection, hundreds of de-commissioned American combat helmets were bought in USA and shipped to Ukraine, where they are widely used by soldiers of Ukrainian Army Forces in non-official war with Russian Federation (along with other types of modern ballistic helmets).

PASGT helmet variants and derivatives[edit]

A SPECTRA helmet used by the Danish military, c. April 2005.
A German military "Gefechtshelm" battle helmet, c. 1992.
Name Origin Notes
CABAL II  Argentina Argentine PASGT derived helmet.
Capacete Combate Ballistico  Brazil Brazilian PASGT derived helmet.
GOLFO  Chile Chilean PASGT derived helmet. The helmet is locally made by Baselli Hermanos S.A of kevlar and was introduced in 2000. It is capable of stopping a 9x19mm round at 310m.
Gefechtshelm Schuberth B826 helmet  Germany German military helmet, used primarily by the German Bundeswehr, Swiss Army, Dutch Army, and the Estonian Defence Forces.
SPECTRA helmet  France French military helmet, used primarily by the Danish Army, French Army and the Canadian military.
JK 96a light Light Steel Helmet  China Chinese military light steel helmet. PASGT-derivative replica helmet, made of light steel and not Kevlar. Used primarily by the People's Liberation Army of the People's Republic of China.
JK 96b Light Steel Helmet  China Chinese military light steel helmet. PASGT-derivative replica helmet, made of light steel and not Kevlar. Used primarily by the People's Liberation Army of the People's Republic of China.
NDH 2001 helmet  China Chinese helmet, produced by the China North Industries Corporation. Norinco produces two types of these PASGT-derivative replica helmets, designed towards civilian police usage.
NDH 2006 helmet  China Chinese helmet, produced by the China North Industries Corporation. Norinco produces two types of these PASGT-derivative replica helmets, designed towards civilian police usage.
OE Tech Tactical helmet  China Replica helmet only.
M97 Helmet  Serbia Serbian PASGT derived helmet.
C-1 Kevlar helmet  Singapore Used primarily by the Singaporean Armed Forces.
Type 88 helmet  Japan Japanese military helmet, used by the Japanese Self-Defense Forces and the Japanese Coast Guard.
M87 Kevlar helmet  South Africa South African helmet issued to the SADF. Made by South African Pith Helmet Industries.
Kevlar VestGuard helmet  United Kingdom The British VestGuard helmet comes in two different variants, the M88 version, and the Kevlar version. Also made by LBA International Ltd.
M88 VestGuard helmet  United Kingdom The British VestGuard helmet comes in two different variants, the M88 version, and the Kevlar version. Also made by LBA International Ltd.
RBR Ltd PASGT helmet  Australia RBR Armour Systems Pty Ltd have refined the Traditional PASGT helmet through years of research and development to a point where it now offers lighter weight and higher protection levels. These advances are made possible by RBR Armour Systems Pty Ltd's use of the latest materials and moulding technologies. The new RBR Armour Systems Pty Ltd's PASGT helmet can also be used with various harness styles to provide the wearer with superior comfort and stability. The RBR Armour Systems Pty Ltd's PASGT Helmet is now standard issue to many Defence forces world wide include the Australian Defence Force.
Advanced Combat Helmet  United States Used primarily by the United States Army and United States Air Force, although it sees widespread usage throughout the U.S. military and is widely used among civilian law enforcement throughout the United States. The ACH helmet is based upon the design of the Modular Integrated Communications Helmet, offering increased ballistic protection over the MICH helmet on which it is based. The ACH helmet has replaced the PASGT helmet in United States Army usage, and is the successor to the MICH helmet.
Lightweight Helmet  United States Used primarily by the United States Marine Corps and the United States Navy. Abbreviated to LWH, the Lightweight Helmet is heavily based upon the PASGT helmet design, being nearly identical in appearance, however it offers increased ballistic protection and wearer comfort over the preceding PASGT helmet. The Lightweight Helmet has replaced the PASGT helmet in United States Marine Corps and United States Navy service.
Modular Integrated Communications Helmet  United States Used primarily by the United States Army and United States Air Force, although it sees widespread usage throughout the U.S. military and is widely used among civilian law enforcement throughout the United States. The Modular Integrated Communications Helmet is the predecessor to the Advanced Combat Helmet, which is an improved design, based upon the design of the MICH helmet.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Box O' Truth #29 - The Helmets O' Truth - Page 4
  2. ^ 120530-N-VY256-253, Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher S. Johnson, United States Navy - Retrieved 5 June 2012.
  3. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qq6LOvTaMyU
  4. ^ 120530-N-VY256-253, Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher S. Johnson, United States Navy - Retrieved 5 June 2012.

External links[edit]