HATTIESBURG, Miss. — The University of Southern Mississippi will conduct research for the Army into improvements in helmet liners for soldiers.

The Army is giving $4.9 million to USM to develop next generation pneumatic cushioning system, which will exceed the blunt impact performance standard of current helmets in various testing conditions.

Dr. Jeff Wiggins, director of the USM's School of Polymers and High Performance Materials, says in a news release that USM partnered with Rawlings Sporting Goods to evaluate, produce and sell the liners for football helmets starting in 2011.

He said cushioning bladders are inflated to specified pressures which remain inflated and stable over the lifetime of the helmet.

Wiggins says the Army program provides resources to advance the technology to higher levels of performance, such as for body and on-field padding.