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MILITARY TECHNOLOGY (MILTECH) is the world's leading international tri-service defence monthly magazine in the English language. MILITARY TECHNOLOGY is "Required Reading for Defence Professionals". Follow us on Twitter: MILTECH1

23 February 2015

IDEX 2015: Savox’ Tactical Headgear System for Changing Operational Requirements

Today’s military helmets should address the challenging requirements of a demanding job, offering protection against a wide range of threats, including fragments, small arms, and rifle bullets, while being lightweight, modular, i.e. give the soldier true system performance…at least that is what they should be doing. When cluttered with night vision goggles (NVG), lights, helmet mounted displays (HMD), and the such, all of a sudden, a lightweight helmet becomes quite a weight on a soldier’s shoulders.

Under “Helmet System 2020,” which started 2010 as part of the Finnish “Technology Programme – Warrior,” Savox went ahead to have better ergonomics compared to the existing combat helmet, and to have a completely integrated system. Soldiers often complained that their helmets were not comfortable to carry, when communications, NVGs, and eye wear were connected to the helmet. With initial discussions having started back in 2004, research began in 2010. At IDEX 2014 Savox is introducing a ‘headgear system’ that has a boltless design for increased ballistic protection: The Savox THOR system.

The Savox THOR system is an extremely modular helmet platform that can be extended by adding more capabilities to the system on the fly, making this a truly integrated design. (Photos: Savox)

Savox THOR – A Total Integrated System

The Savox THOR system is extremely modular, as the helmet platform can be extended by adding more capabilities to the system on the fly, sensors, lights, protective visors etc. via five innovative powered rails (FLEXrail – with four integrated software defined IR- and microphone buttons) that, via common power management (FLEXpower), supplies all devices and communications attached to the helmet, making this a truly integrated design.

Savox' FLEXrail and FLEXpower on the THOR system. Five innovative rails power everything that is attached to the helmet. 

Savox, being the prime for Finland’s Warrior 2020 Soldier Modernisation Programme helmet, works together with FY-Composites, who supply the ballistic shell, and Millog for the NVGs.

The helmet can be adjusted to changing operational requirements by changing the ballistic protection level of the helmet easily via Savox’ FLEXfix technology. FLEXfit provides the possibility to personalise the fitting of each helmet individually for each user according to the head shape and size, including a fast ratchet type of size adjustment. The helmet system provides state-of-the-art ballistic protection thanks to a boltless helmet shell based on the latest Dyneema and aramid material technology via FY-Composites (protection against ballistic threats: fragments and bullets; STANAG 2920 1.1g FSP-v50: 450. 750m/s – back face deformation <25mm; NIJ0106.01 9 mm FMJ bullet 430m/s; and fulfills EN 397 shock absorption requirements). Savox completely re-thought ergonomics resulting in ultimate comfort and stability, making the helmet shell an individual system component that can be removed while maintaining all other features, still delivering BUMP protection (e.g. EN812). The protection level and area can be tailored and varied.

The NVGs are totally integrated in the design with new 60° view angle (also available in the standard 40° field of view). Using 2nd/3rd generation night vision technology, THOR employs Millog’s Hi60, with a human recognition up to 150-250m and an integrated IR illuminator. NVGs can be attached in single or dual configuration, and completely customisable according to customer specifications.

Savox THOR in tests.

Savox THOR is Using the FLEX Family of Technology

  • FLEXadjust provides a flexible and adjustable mounting and positioning of both NVG goggles, hearing protection cups and other accessories. The solution is based upon a multi-axis and multi leverage fixation points in order to warrant a personalised fitting that is easy to adjust to each soldier. FLEXpower provides a power distribution capability to all sensors and communication devices that are attached to the helmet, providing the capability to supply the helmet power internally to all systems, as well as providing and managing the power from external bigger centralised power packs to these helmet mounted sensors and communications devices. 
  • FLEXnet technology provides sensor data routing capability internally of the helmet, as well as connection to external data routers and/or data radios.  
  • FLEXrail provides the mounting rail capability to the headgear system with an open USB integration interface for third party accessory products, such as sensors, NVGs, lights, cameras, etc., as well as standalone existing picatinny rail mounting accessories. 
  • FLEXfix provides the possibility to personalise the fitting of each headgear system individually for each user according to the head shape and size. The technology provides as well a fast ratchet type of size adjustment. 

THOR’s ergonomic mounting solution and weight distribution makes it more comfortable to use, gives it less fatigue, and a smaller profile. The NVGs positioning result in a lower impact point, with the consequence of less destroyed NVGs. And, with the powerpack positioned on the back of the helmet, there is no need for additional counter weights, resulting in a remarkable weight reduction. The helmet is compatible with protective glasses, goggles, and gas masks, i.e. no need to take off the helmet.

Savox THOR can be employed by infantry and Special Forces. 

The helmet is designed for Mounted (in combination and used with Savox IMP and similar systems) and Dismounted operations (used with the SAVOX URIC and similar products).

For integrated communications and hearing protection, THOR incorporates integrated ear speakers for radio communication; a boom microphone and bone conductive skull, throat, or respirator microphone options; volume adjustment by integrated buttons; connectivity options for tactical radios and intercom systems; optional PTT buttons; integrated hearing protection against battlefield noise (SNR 23dB or better); and talk through feature for improved situational awareness. The helmet’s three-position mounting system allows for easy ventilation without removing the helmet or losing communications.

The THOR system has been built around the integration requirements found in advanced soldier modernisation programmes, allowing for a seamless integration of: Communications, sensors, situational awareness, protection, and cover, while allowing for a full modularity based upon mission and training requirements.

Additionally, THOR is designed specifically for use with digital platform intercom solutions and military digital two-way radios, allowing for programmable features and capabilities, which give the user the capacity to customise for the soldier’s specific needs.

The headgear system’s modular concept as a complete integrated system consists of:

  • Head protection: ballistic and shock,
  • Communications,
  • Hearing protection,
  • NVGs,
  • Powered accessory rails, and
  • Centralised power management.

Ergo, a modular structure that allows the user to choose the best set-up in a mission-specific way.
This project - to develop a new "Helmet System 2020 "- started 2010 as part of Finnish "Technology Program - Warrior".

According to Lt.Col. Matti Honkela, PM Warrior 2020, Army Acquisition Coordinator, “Our aim was to have better ergonomics compared to existing combat helmets and to have a completely integrated system.”

Paying close attention to Finland’s arctic conditions and ease of use of the sub systems, “tests were carried out during 2012-2014,” explained LtCol. Honkela. “I think that in this kind of project the feedback from the soldiers is of high importance. Sometimes the feedback - based on testing - has been very demanding. But, I think that is only way to develop a product that satisfies a soldier’s needs.”

When asked how he rates this project, the Army Acquisition Coordinator said:”So far we have been happy with the product and cooperation with the industry.”

The Finnish Deputy Minister of Defence is unveiling the company's new headgear system today at 10am (Monday, 23 February) on the Savox stand (06-B41).

For more information please see MILITARY TECHNOLOGY #2/2015, available at the show and on booth #C1 10-11. 

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