The US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) is looking to acquire a next-generation helmet for aircrews in fixed-wing aircraft.
The centre’s Human Systems Division has partnered with members of the Advanced Tactical Acquisition Corps (ATAC) to acquire the helmet.
In September, airforce innovation hub AFWERX Vegas launched an open challenge seeking ideas for the improvement of the fixed-wing aircrew helmet.
The US Air Force has set aside around $20m to redesign and replace the helmet.
The Human Systems Division awarded $600,000 in grants to three businesses to support the development of prototypes for the helmet. The companies are expected to submit the prototypes by the end of May.
AFLCMC members and ATAC worked with AFWERX Vegas to identify companies capable of developing the new helmet faster, more efficiently and with cutting edge technology.
AFLCMC Human Systems Division programme manager 1st lieutenant Naomi Harper said: “It (legacy helmet) is a 1980’s designed helmet that was not made to withstand and balance everything, technology, that we are putting on them.
“If the weight is off, the centre of gravity is completely off, which can cause neck issues and pain. Our goal is to find a helmet that is lighter, has more stability and is compatible fixed-winged aircraft and equipment.”
The replacement of legacy helmets is being pursued in response to the emergence of new requirements.
Human Systems Division programme manager Michael DeRespinis stated that the division is looking to select one of the prototypes and finalise a contract by September to kickstart further development activity and future production.
The ATAC team members included mid-level military and civilian acquisition professionals from across AFLCMC, the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Space and Missile Systems Center.