The MICH was originally part of a series of combat helmets designed for the U.S. Army Special Operations Command as a replacement for the PASGT helmet and the various non-ballistic skateboard, bicycle, and whitewater "bump" helmets solely within those units.Development was done from 1997 before it was released in January 2001 by the United States Army Soldier Systems Center.
|Modular Integrated Communications Helmet|
|Place of origin||United States of America|
|In service||January 2001 – present|
|Used by||See Users|
|Designer||United States Army Soldier Systems Center|
|Manufacturer||Made by numerous manufacturers like MSA Gallet and Gentex|
|Produced||January 2001 – present|
|Weight||1.36 kg (3.0 lb) to 1.63 kg (3.6 lb), depending on size|
The MICH was originally part of a series of combat helmets designed for the U.S. Army Special Operations Command as a replacement for the PASGT helmet and the various non-ballistic skateboard, bicycle, and whitewater "bump" helmets solely within those units. Development was done from 1997 before it was released in January 2001 by the United States Army Soldier Systems Center.
The main reason for the development of the MICH was due to the protective but heavy PASGT being supplanted by these bump helmets by special forces operators due to them being lighter, more comfortable, closer-fitting, and made of plastic making them easier to mount accessories onto, especially night vision devices and communications headsets.The lighter weight and non-ballistic nature of these helmets allowed the fitting of additional accessories without putting undue strain on the neck or requiring the drilling of holes through Kevlar to affix night vision mounting brackets, compromising the Kevlar helmet's protective ability if not done precisely. Inevitably, operators suffered injury and deaths due to taking their wholly unsuited plastic helmets into the unforgiving environment of close-quarters warfare, especially the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu where at least one Delta Force operator (either SFC Shughart or MSGT Gordon) was supposedly killed by a rifle shot to the head. While no ballistic helmet of the time could protect from rifle fire in close-quarters combat, it inspired the U.S. Army to create a new helmet to better protect special forces in direct action missions while providing the weight and modularity they desired that caused them to cease using the PASGT in the first place.
An initial stop-gap solution was provided in the RBR helmet, which is difficult to find information on but appears to be derived from the French SPECTRA helmet; it particularly resembles the Canadian CG634, which is a derivative. Meanwhile, development was under way of a purpose-built helmet under the SPEAR program, which eventually produced the MICH in the late 1990s and offered in three cuts to allow operator choice in balancing protection and weight to suit their preferences and mission profile. While it did not entirely replace the plastic bump helmets, it replaced them almost completely in direct action missions where operators are most likely to suffer head injury from fragments, concussive force, or bullets. Initially, it was used almost exclusively by SOCOM and some units with close ties to them; however, the U.S. Army later determined that the improvements presented by the lighter, higher-cut, and brim-less MICH over the PASGT helmet warranted organization-wide distribution, and began to release examples to the Army at large as a more cost-effective solution to reequipping the entire Army.
To date, the MICH and its derivatives, the Advanced Combat Helmet and Enhanced Combat Helmet have fully replaced the PASGT in active U.S. Army service and is in use with all branches of the U.S. military in at least some capacity.
The U.S. Marine Corps evaluated the MICH during its own search for a PASGT replacement, but chose to adopt a helmet that retains the profile of the PASGT but is lighter, known as the Lightweight Helmet, which incorporates improvements in the MICH such as the liner and retention system.
The MICH ranges in weight from about 3 lb (1.36 kg) (size medium) to just over 3.6 lb (1.63 kg) (extra large). It uses a new, more advanced type of Kevlar and provides increased protection against handgun rounds.
A pad system and four-point retention system, similar to the cushions and straps found on the aforementioned skate, bicycle, and water helmets, replaces the nylon cord suspension system, sweatband and chinstrap found on the PASGT helmet.The change provides greater impact protection and comfort for the wearer. It can be fitted with a mounting bracket for a night vision device on the front, such as the AN/PVS-14 or AN/PVS-15,similar to that on the PASGT helmet. It can also be fitted with a pair of straps on the rear to keep protective eyewear in place, as well as cloth helmet covers in varying camouflage patterns including M81 Woodland,three-color desert, USMC MARPAT,U.S. Army UCP,Crye MultiCam,and solid black for use with SWAT teams,among numerous other patterns available commercially. As with its PASGT predecessor, the MICH is often worn with a band around it which features a pair of "cat eyes"—patches, some purely reflective and some also slightly luminous, on the back intended to prevent friendly fire incidents.
The MICH is also slightly smaller than the PASGT, providing 8% less coverage; this is primarily in the elimination of the brow and raising of the sides to the point that the lower brim behind the temple is "flat", compared to the "curved" profile of the PASGT. This accounts for some of the reduced weight and allows for both greater situational awareness and less obstruction of the wearer's vision, particularly when combined with Interceptor Body Armor.
Previously, soldiers had complained that the high collar of the Interceptor combined with the two-point chinstrap pushed the back of the PASGT helmet forward, in turn moving the helmet brim over their eyes when they attempted to fire from a prone position, this is rectified in the MICH with its reduced profile and four-point chinstrap.
The baseline "Full cut" helmet, which has a four-point chin strap and seven pads worn inside.
The second cut known as "High cut", which removes all ear protection allowing for even more headset options at the cost of all side protection.
The third cut known "Gunfighter cut",which raises the area around the ears by about 1/2", allowing for a wider range of headsets to be used and roughly meeting the profile of the skateboard and whitewater helmets previously used by special forces.