Australia, after studying four different helmet designs, accepted one from an Israeli firm and is introducing it as the Enhanced Combat Helmet (ECH). Some ten ounces lighter than the current helmet, the ECH also offers better protection and is much more comfortable. The Israeli proposal is a modified (to meet Australian specifications) version of the RBH 303 helmet (itself a modification of the RBH 103 helmet currently used by the Israeli armed forces.) The main modifications were improved ballistics protection, changes to the padding system, the elimination of the front brim and a reduction in ear coverage to enable troops to use “Active Noise Reduction” equipment. The ECH comes in four sizes (small, medium, large and extra large), with the heaviest one weighing 2.6 pounds. The RBH 303 only had three sizes, but it was found that many Australian troops, well, had big heads.
The current Australian helmet, the PASGT, is similar to the Kevlar model adopted by the United States in the early 1980s, and by many nations after that. The Kevlar design was a third generation combat helmet, and nicknamed the “Fritz” after its resemblance to the German helmets used in both World Wars. The German World War I design, which was based on an analysis of where troops were being hit by fragments and bullets in combat, was the most successful combat helmet in that war. This basic design was little changed during World War II, and finally adopted by many other nations after the American Kevlar helmet appeared in the 1980s. Most of the second generation helmets, which appeared largely during World War II, were similar to the old American “steel pot” design. The fourth generation helmets, currently appearing, use better synthetic materials and more comfortable design.