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The SPECTRA helmet or CGF Gallet Combat Helmet is the ballistic helmet in use since 2016 in the French military, and the armies of several other countries. Built by CGF Gallet (producer of the F1 helmet for firemen), it weighs 1.4 kg (3.1 lb), is available in three sizes, and is made from ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene Spectra fibers, produced under license from Honeywell. The SPECTRA helmet can stop shell fragments of 1.1 g (0.039 oz) travelling at 680 m/s (2,200 ft/s), an 80% improvement over the Modèle 1978 helmet it replaced.
The SPECTRA helmet is the result of 1990 studies intended to design the helmet for the French Army of the 2000s. In 1992, the conflict in the former Yugoslavia put large numbers of French blue helmets in contact with well-trained and well-equipped opponents, especially snipers during the Siege of Sarajevo, where heavier protection than the Modèle 1978 helmet proved necessary. The Army requested an emergency study for the new helmet, and tests were made, which selected the Dyneema fiber. Gallet drafted a model based on the Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops (PASGT or Fritz) helmet used by the United States Army, and produced a first series of 5,000 which was immediately made available to the blue helmets in the former Yugoslavia. These first models were mostly blue in color. Later models used the NATO green color. They gradually equipped all French troops, with priority given to units on missions in foreign territories.
In France, due to lack of adequate protection, hundreds of SPECTRA helmets were bought and donated in France and Denmark and shipped to Ukraine, where they are widely used by soldiers of the Ukrainian Army Forces, fighting Russian aggression in Ukraine , along with other types of modern ballistic helmets. Canada also donated their CG634 combat helmets to Ukraine.
The helmet is made of Spectra fibre. It is not bulletproof against rifle or carbine bullets. It is a fragmentation-resistant helmet with a maximum distortion (loss of shape) of 20 mm (0.79 in) from a 9mm full metal jacket bullet (FMJ) of 8 g (124 gr) travelling 390 to 420 m/s (1,300 to 1,400 ft/s) on impact. It has a resistance to fragments that meets NATO Standardised Regulation (STANAG) 2920, V50 mini, which is 640 m/s (2,100 ft/s). Resistance to shock-impact meets protection standard EN397 for industrial helmets.
The helmet can be worn with earmuffs and an individual radio system. Further equipment, like night vision, can be added. The new infantry combat equipment of the French army, the Félin system, is partly based on development of the SPECTRA helmet.
Official designation of CGF Gallet is Série 8320 casque de combat TC "D" and they are made in three size;
The V is for French vert (Green). M, L, XL are sizes.
The helmet is also available with no visor, to facilitate easier use of night vision equipment, and with added protection for law enforcement.
The official designations M, L and XL are usually called Small, Medium and Large in Denmark.
Head circumference is;
- M: 55.0–57.5 cm (21.7–22.6 in)
- L: 57.5–60.5 cm (22.6–23.8 in)
- XL: 60.5–64.0 cm (23.8–25.2 in)
In Denmark it is designated as Helmet, M/96, green.
In the early 1990s, the Danish army began looking for a replacement to the old US M1 helmet designated M/46 Steel helmet, which had been the standard helmet in Denmark since World War 2. The M/96 helmet may be fully phased out very soon in favour of a version of the Gentex Advanced Combat Helmet (ACH).
The removable helmet cover allows to change the pattern of the camouflage. For instance, the Danish army uses three different covers:
- Helmet cover "Dk-version". An early version produced probably locally in Denmark. Almost identical to the CGF Gallet 900076 version but with no rubber rim, instead it has a drawstring to keep it tight to the helmet. The loops of the drawstrings on top of the helmet sometimes are quite big. M/84 camouflage pattern. Still in use in some places until roughly 1998 or 1999.
- M/96 Helmet cover. CGF Gallet 900076-VSxx (x = XL, L, M). This is the standard cover in the Danish army. M/84 camouflage pattern and a big rubber rim to hold it tight to the helmet. Made of the same fabric as the M/84 Combat uniform: 67% cotton & 33% polyester.
- M/03 Helmet cover. MSA Gallet 501814-JJxx (x = XL, L, M). With M/99 Desert camouflage pattern and a big rubber rim to hold it tight to the helmet. Made of the same fabric as the M/03 Desert uniform: 90% cotton & 10% polyester.
The Canadian Forces adopted the SPECTRA with a few modifications. The CG634 helmet was introduced in 1997 replacing the old M1 helmet. The CF trialled the US Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops in the 1990s before adopting the French version. The Canadian version is made by Barrday of Ontario (trial versions) and Gallet Sécurité Internationale (GSI) in Saint-Romuald, Quebec.
Spectra helmet, from the back, with the insignia of the French Foreign Legion
The Spectra helmet with electronic equipment of the Félin system
Anti-riot version as used by the Gendarmerie Mobile
- Austria – Kampfhelm (with RAL7013 helmet cover)
- Bangladesh – Bangladesh army(green),SWAT(black), SWADS(black/green).
- Canada – modified version with superior ballistic protection, named CG634
- Denmark – helmet, M/96, green
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