News is spreading today that the United States Army is preparing to implement a next generation combat helmet for its soldiers. Now, if you find yourself asking, “who cares,” stay with me. The new combat helmet isn’t some new version of the bunker helmets that have been worn for centuries. Instead, it’s a mask and helmet that completely covers each soldier’s face, giving them the rather grim appearance of Darth Vader or one of his loyal stormtroopers from the ‘Star Wars’ saga.
The look isn’t the exciting part, either. Each helmet works like a personalized air-conditioning device, cooling soldiers off when they’re in the heat of battle and purifying the air for them. In other words, this is futuristic war tech that looks and acts all sorts of mean.
Part of the Military’s Continued Move to Launch Soldiers into the Future
The new air-conditioned helmet isn’t the Army’s first foray into highly futuristic gear for its soldiers. For the last few years, Army researchers have been working on an infantry improvement exoskeleton, code-named TALOS, in order to increase soldiers’ combat prowess in the field. TALOS — Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit — can be thought of like low-grade Iron Man armor. The suit effectively makes soldiers bulletproof, gives them superhuman strength, and provides real time environmental data using a suite of sensors and software built into TALOS. The suits should be implemented gradually between 2016 and 2018.
Are the Air-Conditioned Helmets Worth the Cost?
While this future tech is incredibly cool — yes, that’s a completely objective, professional assessment — the fact is it’s going to take a lot of convincing for taxpayers and lawmakers to be okay with the price-tag attached to each helmet. While the Army is remaining typically hush about the budget associated with the research and development of the device, as well as the costs of implementation and production, you can rest assured that these helmets aren’t going to come cheap.
Even so, from a health standpoint, the air-conditioned helmets are likely worth the bill. Consider, the military’s main zone of activity over the last few decades has been the Middle East, a part of the world not known for chilly weather. That doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon. Operating in those conditions presents some significant risks to soldiers that have nothing to do with bullets. Heat stroke is among one of the biggest concerns. Heat stroke leads to fatigue, dizziness, and inability to focus. When you add confusion, a sure sign of late stage heat sickness, you have a lethal combination for our men and women in uniform. Avoiding that, many would say, is well worth the cost of some advanced combat helmets.