Put the bullet on its side. Why light armor helmet 6B47 is recognized by DuPont specialists as the best in the world and how important fashion trends are for special forces employees.
Evgeny Kharchenko - General Director of the Center for High-Strength Materials "Reinforced Composites" (ARMOCOM).
- Evgeny Fedorovich, your center takes an active part in the creation of promising equipment "Ratnik", the elements of which are now undergoing experimental military operation in the Armed Forces of Russia. What items are included in this kit?
- Having won the competition for participation in the ROC "Ratnik" three years ago, we made a single combined-arms helmet, as well as equipment for the crews of combat vehicles. The helmet, which received the 6B47 index after state tests, we began to supply immediately, as they say, "off the wheels" and have already handed over to the customer several tens of thousands of products. And this year they should deliver about 40 thousand more.
I would like to note that our center completed all the work on 6B47 very quickly. Preliminary tests ended in April 2012, in September 2013 we completed the state tests, after which we signed a contract for the supply of armored helmets in December.
Soon we will begin to supply the crews of combat vehicles with equipment, which received the 6B48 index. This year, it is planned to transfer about 2,000 copies to the Ministry of Defense.
- Our publication managed to communicate with the servicemen participating in the experimental military operation of the "Ratnik". All of them unanimously note that the 6B47 is very lightweight and comfortable to use, especially against the background of old steel helmets and even more recent Kevlar helmets. But will he be able to protect the military from shrapnel and enemy bullets?
- First of all, I would like to explain the ideology that we use in the development of not only armored helmets, but also personal protective equipment. As the experience of armed conflicts, as well as numerous studies, shows, servicemen of combined arms units on the battlefield are struck primarily by shrapnel. Therefore, we make anti-fragmentation protection for the "combined arms", and we consider the bullet as the equivalent of a heavy high-speed fragment.
After the state tests of 6B47 on the "Warrior" theme, I personally went to the DuPont test center, one of the most reputable in the world, located in Geneva. There our helmet was tested to the fullest, and the Swiss unanimously recognized: this is the best of the light helmets that they held in their hands. And they issued a corresponding conclusion. Therefore, I can declare with full responsibility: 6B47 is the best in the world among light helmets in terms of anti-splinter resistance.
Our helmet has a three-layer structure - a composite shell outside and inside, and a discrete fabric material in the middle. Its peculiarity is that it "unfolds" almost any bullet, as it were. The bullet lays on one side, in fact, at 90 degrees. Moreover, the weight of 6B47 is only one kilogram.
In many ways, such high security indicators are a requirement of domestic GOSTs. They are considered some of the toughest in the world, especially in terms of shell shock. So, according to the obstruction for body armor, this is the size of an imprint in gelatin or soft plastic that imitates a human body, when it hits a helmet and does not penetrate it, the indicator should be no more than 20 millimeters, while in the West it is allowed as much as 44 millimeters.
I want to draw your attention to the fact that 6B47 is supplied not only to combined arms units, but also to the recently created command of the special operations forces of the Ministry of Defense (KSSO). True, for the SSO we changed the under-body device from a belt to special regulators, somewhat reminiscent of those used in sports helmets. I can proudly note: last year in Crimea, some of the "polite people" were already wearing the helmets of the ARMOCOM center.
- In addition to 6B47, you mentioned equipment for the crews of 6B48 combat vehicles. Could you tell us in more detail?
- Until January of this year, a similar set of "Cowboy", also of our design, was already on the supply of the Ministry of Defense. This is a special suit, an armored helmet and a bullet-proof vest that protect a soldier not only from shrapnel and bullets, but also from burns, while not preventing him from working inside a combat vehicle.
But within the framework of the ROC "Ratnik" we were given a seemingly unsolvable task - with the same weight of the kit, to increase its splinter protection and fire resistance. Together with the developers of the fibers, after numerous experiments and tests, we were able to increase the fire resistance of the kit by 20 percent, and to improve the splinter resistance by 40 percent, but not go beyond the set mass of the kit. The total weight of 6B48, such an index received a new set, is only six kilograms.
- You mentioned the KSSO, and does your center cooperate with the special forces of other power structures, besides the Ministry of Defense?
- For the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Internal Troops and the FSB, we supply so-called assault ladders and armored shields. And so far the only manufacturers of such products in the Russian Federation.
For the special purpose center of the FSB of Russia we are serially supplying a reinforced Vulcan helmet of the second level of protection, which holds a TT pistol bullet from five meters with zero shell shock. We also produce anti-splinter and anti-cut suits.
Our special pride is the Vulcan-5 ceramic armored helmet, capable of withstanding an automatic bullet. And its weight is only 4.5 kilograms. It completely dampens the dynamics of the bullet and, most importantly, the operator has no displacement of the cervical vertebrae, even a dynamic impact.
But in reality, working with special forces is quite difficult. In this market, "fashion trends" are of great importance. In Russia, one of their legislators is the FSB Special Purpose Center.
We know very well: as soon as something deserving of attention appears there, the guys from other special forces immediately want the same. Other trendsetters, let's not hide it, are American soldiers who are far from the worst on the battlefield, but in terms of equipment they are almost the best in the world.
We offer one of the special forces our 6B47 helmets, they fully satisfy them in all respects. But the command tells us: what are we going to wear in helmets, like the infantry, to walk. We're a special unit! What to do? We installed additional strips, changed the fastening system and gave the product a different index. And the customer was completely satisfied.
- Speaking about "fashion trends", you mean ballistic helmets of the American company OpScore and their various replicas, which are now actively supplied to our market by private companies, which are popular among soldiers of Russian special forces?
- Original American products are good enough both in terms of ergonomics and protection. But they have significant drawbacks in our climate. So, at a temperature of minus 40 degrees, if it gets into the helmet, even if it is not penetrated, the elements of the under-body device themselves become damaging factors and cause serious injuries.
Ballistic helmets of the American company OpScore
At one time we took "Opskorov" products, conducted tests, threw them from different heights, fired at them, tested them at different temperatures. Now our center has developed and is already supplying customers from different law enforcement agencies with two analogs of American products - Volcano and Skat-R.
The ballistic structure of these products is the same as on 6B47. We supply both versions to our customers both in the classic version "without ears", and with "ears", with installed mounts for NVG, Piccatini strips, as well as with so-called rails for flashlights, video cameras, headphones, etc. By the way, all these fastening elements are the development of our center, and on them you can put not only foreign, but also domestic products.
Armored helmet Skat-R
True, we use natural materials in the under-body design of our combined-arms helmets, but at the same time, their design is free from the drawbacks inherent in American products.
In addition to Vulkan and Skat-R products, we have developed and produce a unique protective helmet for military personnel and special forces personnel performing high-altitude skydiving. Weighing only 600 grams, our product does more than provide complete protection. It integrates all the necessary "body kit": an oxygen mask, headphones, a night vision device, etc. The helmet has already passed all the tests and will soon be accepted for supply.
In general, the pursuit of "fashion trends" sometimes reaches the point of absurdity. For example, at exhibitions, buyers ask us at our stand: why the covers on body armor are not made of Multicam or ATAC camouflage fabric. If you make these, then we will buy. We have to meet customers halfway.
- Evgeny Fedorovich, the topic of sanctions and import substitution introduced against Russia is constantly being discussed. How acute are these problems for your center?
- The products that we supply for the Russian Ministry of Defense do not have foreign components and materials. From the first days we had a clear task - to exclude everything imported. And we must admit that we have never deviated from this course. In our products we use materials from Russian aramid fiber based on RUSLAN and RUSAR materials. A thread is made of them, which in turn is the basis of the fabric.
It must be admitted that at one time for the Vulcan and Skat-R armored helmets we partially purchased the filling from the official dealer of the American company OpScore in Russia. But now these products have completely switched to domestic materials and elements, which, as already proven by users, are no worse than foreign ones.
At the same time, our center has a large scientific department, where specialists with great experience and scientific background work. It also has its own accredited ballistic laboratory. Therefore, when receiving a new material, the center can immediately, so to speak, “try it out,” because one should not forget that sometimes manufacturers declare characteristics much higher than they actually are.
We carry out extensive monitoring not only of products manufactured in the Russian Federation, but also of their foreign counterparts. I will not hide - we also use foreign analogs of materials, if it is beneficial to our customer.