WASHINGTON (Army News Service, May 1, 2009) - The Army has issued a recall of 34,218 Advanced Combat Helmets which failed ballistic tests.
The recall affects 15,380 Army helmets, 12,000 Air Force helmets and another 6,838 helmets which were never issued by Defense Logistics Agency.
The helmet shells are "absolutely safe and effective, that's the bottom line" according to Lt. Col. Robert Myles, product manager for Soldier Survivability. The company that manufactured the recalled helmets, Gentex Corp., told the Army it believed the four screws which attach the chinstrap and related parts to the helmet did not conform to Army contract specifications.
Gentex alleged a subcontractor had falsified certificates of compliance related to the type of steel screws it furnished.
"Gentex made the mistake and corrected themselves by bringing it to the government and letting us know that their subcontractor had replaced the hardware with unauthorized hardware," said Myles.
The screws failed the ballistics tests at temperatures of minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit and at temperatures above 160 degrees Fahrenheit. In those extreme conditions, rounds were fired directly at the screw heads.
"The four screws on the helmet combined represent less than one half of one percent of the total surface area of the helmet," said Barry Hauck, deputy program manager for Soldier Survivability. "The temperature extremes sound severe, but that's the requirement we put on the performance of these helmets. We establish requirements that far exceed the operational envelope they are going to eventually experience."
"The minimal risk here because you actually have to hit one of these screws because the helmet itself passed ballistic testing without any problems, it's just the screw that needs to be replaced," added Myles.
Gentex is one of four companies that manufacture the ACH. Of about 1.2 million ACHs that have been delivered to the Army, 297,000 have been produced by Gentex.
Myles said once Army Criminal Investigation Division has completed its investigation, Gentex will absorb the costs and resources to change out the screws.