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New Portuguese Armed Forces Ballistic Helmet IIIA

The Portuguese Ministry of National Defence is currently running a Soldier Modernisation programme which includes new combat uniforms and ballistic protection, writes Bob Morrison.


Announced in February 2018 and scheduled for widespread issue from 2019, though some items are believed already in use with troops operationally deployed on international multinational missions, the programme includes both an Advanced Combat Uniform (in a new camouflage pattern) and Personal Protection Equipment. The latter includes a ballistic vest, ballistic helmet and knee & elbow pads developed by the AuxDefense consortium of the University of Minho and Plataforma Internacional Fibrenamics plus five companies from Northern Portugal (Fibrauto, IDT Consulting, Latino Group, LMA and Sciencentris) working in close cooperation with the Portuguese Army and Air Force.


Underside of High Cut helmet showing retention system – note BOA adjustment dia [©BM]

When visiting the Portuguese Platform For Defence Industries (idD) stand in Portugal’s national pavilion at EDEX (the Egyptian Defence Exhibition) in Cairo last week JOINT-FORCES.com was permitted to examine and photograph one of the new ballistic helmets. Designated Ballistic Helmet IIIA, the new head protection system has been designed in Full Cut, Medium Cut and High Cut versions and is being produced in three sizes; the example pictured here is the High Cut version with VAS Shroud and Picatinny-compatible Side Rails.


Formed from multi-scale reinforced composite with UHMWPE (Ultra High Molecular Weight Poly Ethylene) fibres, carbon and an epoxy base matrix, the 6.5mm thick shell provides ballistic protection against shrapnel, handgun and rifle projectiles. Design specification for bullet protection is NIJ Standard 0108.01 Level IIIA (i.e. 9mm FMJ or .44 Magnum SJHP at 426m/s) and for fragment protection is STANAG 2920 (2nd edition).


The helmet’s polyamide retention harness has six attachment points, comfort coated chin support, BOA quick adjustment dial, and a set of front, rear and sagittal pads with breathable fabric surfaces. On the top, sides and rear of the cornstalk-coloured helmet there are velcro-type pads for insignia and equipment attachment.

{ images © Bob Morrison }

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