What is a 4th Generation Combat Helmet?

What is a 4th Generation Combat Helmet?

As the theatre of war advances, so must the protection gear that safeguards our soldiers. NFM recognizes and understand the challenges faced by those in the field and is dedicated to continual innovation, tailoring our solutions to address the evolving demands of future battlefields. At the forefront of this evolution is the HJELM™, a 4th generation combat helmet that stands out from its predecessors.

“By not simply improving, but re-imagining helmet design, we’ve taken a quantum leap from the 3rd to the 4th generation,” explains Tor Inge Thun, Chief Product Officer at NFM Group.

He outlines that the shift isn’t just in weight and performance but in a holistic approach to functionality. “We’ve learned from the past and innovated for the future,” Tor says, emphasizing that every feature on the HJELM™ serves multiple purposes.

Before his employment at NFM Group, Tor Inge Thun is also a former Commander in His Royal Majesty Norwegian Navy with operational experiences from the Coastal Ranger Command. When first introduced to the first HJELM™ in a meeting with NFM CEO Walter Øverland at NFM HQ in Ski in 2018, when he was the project manager at the Norwegian Defence Material Agency.

It was by far the lightest and thinnest helmet shell I had ever held, but what also struck me was the ingenious inner liner system, impact protection systems and an innovative attachment system pattern,” says Tor remembering the first encounter with the NFM HJELM™.

The 4th Gen Helmet’s Dual-Function Breakthrough

Thun got his first helmet as an Army conscript in 1996, which were remains from World War II and the American M1 helmet, known as 2nd generation helmets. Throughout his military career he has also used the Soldat 2000 Kevlar helmet and the Ops-Core FAST helmet, experienced and the benefits and disadvantages with all of them.

Drawing on his extensive personal and professional experience with combat helmets, Tor explains the distinctive features that set the 4th generation helmet apart from its 3rd generation predecessor.

“Not addressing the weight and performance, which is a separate topic, the HJELM™ has a significant different approach from a 3rd Generation ballistic protective helmet,” he explains. “And every feature and functional solution in HJELM™ have a minimum of two functions” Tor continues and shares his insight.

The design of the 4th generation helmet is informed by a thorough analysis of the 3rd generation’s strengths and weaknesses, integrating innovative solutions inspired by non-military protective headgear.

4 unique key features of the 4th Generation Combat Helmets:

HASP™ Helmet Attachment System Pattern: Beyond Protection

HASP

A standout example of multiple function is the HASP™. It’s not just a protective layer for the helmet’s shell and paint; it’s a versatile base for attachment point for accessories with its patch-pads and hook & loop-holder, designed for items like IFF or helmet cameras.

“This cover also accommodates camouflage, adapting to materials like TROLLHAIR™ or natural vegetation, which is vital for signature management.” says Tor.

SKULLPLATE™ Liner System: Comfort Meets Innovation

Moving away from traditional padding, the HJELM™ introduces the SKULLPLATE™ Liner System.

“We’re setting a new standard for comfort and stability. The SKULLPLATE™ evenly distributes weight, reduces pressure points, and maintains crucial standoff distance between the shell and the head. Integrating KOROYD technology, known for its lightweight, high-impact absorption in motorcycle helmets, it also ensures airflow and adds another layer of blunt force trauma protection,” says Tor.

Skullplate liner

EDGEMOUNT™ Attachment System: Modular and Light

Edgemount

Weight is a critical factor in combat gear. Tor highlights how the EDGEMOUNT™ Attachment System separate it from competitors and contributes to the HJELM™’s modular design.

“Every gram counts. Our system allows for essential gear only, reducing the load and minimizing battle fatigue.”

The innovative attachment system not only enhances shell protection but also allows for customization and cable management, addressing common operator challenges.

“Cables are always prone to breaking, snagging, and tearing off from its socket. The solution is to hide and secure cables by using the inside void between the shell and the SKULLPLATE™ liner is both elegant and extremely functional,” he says.

User-Friendly Chin strap System

Acknowledging the diversity of preferences among users, the HJELM™ features an adaptable Chin strap system that can be washed, rinsed, or replaced easily.

“We’ve even thought of the rifle stock conflict—our rear attachment eliminates that,” Tor adds, underscoring the attention to detail in the helmet’s design. And for those who prefer the traditional Chin strap closing system, we offer an optional chin buckle too,” he says.

Chin strap

A New Era of Combat Helmets

The first version of the 4th Generation HJELM™ Combat Helmet System was ready in 2018 which addressed many disadvantages of the 3rd generation helmets. Brilliantly designed by David Rogers (the founder of Ops Core) and the NFM team led by Thomas Hvesser, Director of Strategic Projects at NFM Group.

It represents a shift in the paradigm of combat helmets, pushing the boundaries of protection, functionality, and user experience. With its innovative features and forward-thinking design, it’s not just a piece of equipment; it’s critical protection for the modern soldier.

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