A7 Helmet Systems, LLC, a holding of Angel 7 Industries, today released its newest helmet-liner system, the K9-13X Bison, which offers not only the exceptional blunt-impact protection and stability for which A7 is known, but also remarkable ventilation and comfort.
The K9-13X Bison joins two other liners, the K9-7X Super Eagle and the K9-11X Black Eagle, which gives A7 Helmet Systems three liner systems that meet or exceed the "technology need" identified by the U.S. military for a suspension system that keeps peak acceleration below 150g at drop speeds of 14.1 feet per second (ft/s). The U.S. Army and Marine Corps have sought such a system since 2007.
"A7 Helmet Systems was created to develop the best possible protection for our warfighters, and our new Bison liner is another positive step toward accomplishing that mission," said Kerry Harris, President and Chief Technology Officer for A7 Helmet Systems. "The military has been clear in saying that a new level of protection for our fighting men and women is needed, and A7 Helmet Systems has met that challenge with not one, but three different systems."
The Bison, like its siblings, offers superior protection against blunt impacts. Independent tests have shown that, when installed in a standard-issue Advanced Combat Helmet (ACH), the liner kept peak acceleration measurements below 150g at 14.1 ft/s regardless of whether the impact targeted the crown, the front, the rear, or the side of the helmet. Additionally, A7's padding systems are designed for use in all weather conditions, so the impact-attenuating qualities of the systems remain consistent in hot, cold and ambient temperatures. The systems also offer increased protection against "backface deformation" by utilizing one-piece designs and more robust and resilient padding material.
The Bison's superior comfort and performance are due in large part to the company's patents-pending Dynamic Suspension Technology(tm), or DST(tm). According to the company, DST(tm) is a game-changing technology because it allows the company to substantially increase the thickness of impact-attenuating materials in critical areas of its suspension systems without requiring the soldier to wear a larger, heavier helmet shell. As a result, a soldier can immediately increase the blunt-impact protection of his or her existing ACH, ECH, PASGT, or LWMH by simply removing the old pads and inserting a new A7 system.
The invention of DST(tm) is well-timed because scientists and members of the medical community have been calling for the use of thicker pads in combat helmets to help reduce the incident rates of troops suffering concussions and other types of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). For instance, a recent study funded by the U.S. Army and conducted by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory found that soldiers using military helmets one size larger and with thicker pads could reduce the severity of TBIs caused by blunt and ballistic impacts. The study's authors acknowledged, however, that functional and operational concerns would have to be weighed against the benefit of requiring soldiers to wear a one-size larger helmet to accommodate thicker pads. In fact, the use of a larger, heavier helmet is at odds with initiatives in the U.S. and abroad to increase the protection and effectiveness of troops by making their equipment smaller and lighter (e.g., the lightweight ECH being developed by the U.S. Marine Corps). Because DST(tm) allows for the use of thicker padding without the need for a larger helmet, though, it solves the problems identified by well-intentioned and knowledgeable people on both sides of the discussion and eliminates the operational and moral dilemma of having to choose between increased blunt-impact protection and requiring troops who are already overburdened with equipment and supplies to wear a bulkier, heavier helmet.
"A7's liners with Dynamic Suspension Technology are an effective solution to one of the most serious problems facing our armed forces," said Patrick McGuire, Chief Executive Officer of A7 Helmet Systems. "Soldiers are suffering traumatic brain injuries at an alarming rate and the numbers are rising. Suspension systems play a critical role in preventing TBIs and the 14.1 ft/s goal set by the U.S. military represents a big step forward on the issue because that number represents a doubling of the energy produced in tests used to measure a helmet's blunt-impact protection as compared to the current standard of 10.1 ft/s. We certainly agree with the logic that a higher standard for suspension systems could prevent some TBIs from occurring in the first place and reduce the severity of others. Accordingly, we are excited to be the first company to offer liner systems that meet this goal."
U.S. Department of Defense reports show that U.S. troops are suffering traumatic brain injuries at the rate of approximately 9,800 per quarter, or more than 100 per day, and those numbers are rising. The average cost of treating a case of mild TBI is over $25,000 per year while the cost of treating moderate and severe TBIs can range from $260,000 to more than $400,000 per case per year.
"The economics are not the main concern," McGuire added, "though based on these figures, even a modest decrease in the number of TBIs suffered by our troops could save U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars annually. But more importantly, by reducing the severity of some TBIs and eliminating others altogether, we can save our nation's warriors from having to endure the medical, cognitive, behavioral, and emotional problems that such injuries can bring about. For this reason, we will continue to work with helmet manufacturers and military leaders to get our systems fielded as quickly as possible."