According to Norwegian Defense Logistic Organization (NDLO) program manager Per Morten Brunborg, they chose the F.A.S.T. Ballistic helmet as the new standard issue lid because the "helmet saves the overall program money by allowing us to field it service wide in several configurations, instead of having to field several different kinds of helmets like we used to. It's also very beneficial that we can provide our soldiers better ballistic performance at a much lighter weight than our previous helmet."
In a nutshell, they are embracing the Ops-Core helmet as a system by using ballistic and non-ballistic accessories to outfit each unit with a helmet that suits their mission and capability. To wit, the Norwegians ordered side armor, mandibles, helmet covers and rear counterweights. Each of these items provides added protection and performance that can be tailored on a per-mission basis.
Our tipster originally told us the month's long selection process was called project 4004 and came down to three vendors, with Ops-Core coming out on top. Ops-Core is mum on the particulars (how many, how much), but we were told earlier that an initial order of up to 1000 lids will ship to meet a late 2011 deadline to equip a deploying unit.
We asked Ops-Core CEO David Rogers how an order this large would affect their current production and pricing of the F.A.S.T. Ballistic helmet:
"The Norwegian project is something we are very proud of, and will also afford expansion of our current production capacity. This will result in shorter delivery lead times for other customers once this additional capacity is online. Our prices are directly resultant from our raw material costs, and the increased volume based upon this order is not sufficient for our vendors to decrease their prices. Once we exceed orders for 100,000 helmets or more, our prices will be reduced accordingly."
Ops-Core's press release:
"Ops-Core, Inc. (Boston, MA) was awarded a contract this week to supply the Norwegian Army with a new ballistic combat helmet called the FAST helmet (short for Future Assault Shell Technology). This order will fulfill quantities to outfit the Army as well as some of the Norwegian National Guard.
The decision to go with Ops-Core has resulted from an extensive competition over the past year which considered submissions from all the major players in the military combat helmet industry. Evaluation of the helmet included months of troop trials, ballistic and other safety testing. The Norwegian Special Forces had already fielded the helmet earlier in the year and have been using it in operations in both Afghanistan and Iraq with positive results.
Norway opted for the Ops-Core helmet over traditional options because the FAST helmet is the first modern combat helmet to offer a systems approach to military headgear. It gives soldiers the capability to tailor their level of protected head coverage as a balance between improved situational awareness, weight, and operational requirements.
"The FAST helmet gave our program flexibility to adapt to a variety of service positions and mission profiles that were difficult to accomplish with only one helmet in the past" said the Norwegian Defense Logistic Organization (NDLO) program manager Per Morten Brunborg. "This helmet saves the overall program money by allowing us to field it service wide in several configurations, instead of having to field several different kinds of helmets like we used to. It's also very beneficial that we can provide our soldiers better ballistic performance at a much lighter weight than our previous helmet. The Ops-Core FAST High Cut version provides the Norwegian Army the right balance between comfort and integration of attachments, which stress the soldiers neck less than the previous solutions and enhances the durability of the soldier," he continued.
The FAST helmet is state-of-the-art with a shell weight that is significantly less than the competitors of comparable size, coverage and ballistic performance. This capability is the result of a multi-year collaboration effort between Ops-Core, Ceradyne and DSM Dyneema. Ceradyne, the sub-contractor who molds the shell, has a special seamless processing technique using Dyneema's ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene material that yields outstanding ballistic protection at lower weights. Much of the systems technology used in this helmet has also been in the works over the last ten years with significant inputs from PEO Soldier, the Army Research Labs, and Natick Soldier Center and is similar to that being used in the new Enhanced Combat Helmet (ECH) for the US Army and Marine Corps.
While Ops-Core may be new to Norway, the FAST helmet has been a favorite of Special Operations Forces around the world for several years now. It is already used by many elite units in the US, as well as top tier programs in other European countries. The US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is evaluating the FAST helmet for service wide procurement as part of its MICH Lightweight Helmet program planned for next year.
Deliveries of the FAST helmet to Norway are scheduled to commence in Q4 of 2011 and continue through Q3 of 2012. The Norwegian contract is valid for 10 years and is good for future Norwegian procurement and purchasing activities. For more information, please visit the Ops-Core website at www.ops-core.com