A new helmet by 3M offers high-level protection and lightweight durability similar to the helmets worn by special operations troops.

The Minnesota-based company unveiled the new ballistic helmet F70 at the Association of the United States Army’s annual meeting.

The F70 comes in both high- and mid-cut versions. Each offers more protection than the company’s Ultra-Light Weight Ballistic Bump Helmet but also can be used as a lighter, modular option to the heavier Combat II Ballistic Helmet.

Terry Griffith, defense business manager for 3M, told Army Times that there’s been more than a year’s development on the current version, and the company is already taking orders. The helmet works for both military and law enforcement applications.

The Ultra-Light Weight helmet comes in at 1.73 pounds but only offers protection for 17 grain, .22 caliber projectiles at 2,200 feet per second.

The F70 protects against those size projectiles at higher velocities as well as against 9mm-sized projectiles at 1,400 feet per second.

The legacy Combat II helmet does offer more protection, up to projectiles in the 7.62mm range, but it comes at a heavier weight, 3.31 pounds.

The F70 weighs just 2.21 pounds for the high rise and 2.44 pounds on the mid-rise version.

And, Griffith noted, the “no thru-hole” design maintains better protection because standard bolts put into the helmet shell for items such as night vision devices can weaken the structure and lessen the protection.

The Air Force Test Parachute Program performed an evaluation of the 3M Ballistic Helmet F70 and determined it to be suitable for Air Force static line and military free fall operations, according to a 3M release.

Each F70 helmet comes with reverse dovetail rails that accept common industry accessories. Optional accessories designed for the helmet include ballistic mandibles, visors, helmet covers, over ear ballistic protection and counterweights. Also, the helmet works with 3M PELTOR communications and hearing protection solutions.

Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.

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