Gentex Corp. in Carbondale, PA received a maximum $67.3 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract from the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP) in Philadelphia, PA. for Advanced Combat Helmets. At current prices, that will buy more than 160,000 helmets, though the ACH also comes with a number of accessories. They will be made available to the US Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, all of whom have personnel serving as ground troops. The date of performance completion is Nov 21/10. This proposal was originally Dibbs solicited with 3 responses, and contract funds will expire at the end of FY 2009 (SPM1C1-09-D-0003).
The ACH replaces the old PASGT helmet in the Army, and offers a number of improvements including exposed ears to improve hearing, a set mount for night vision gear, better protection against bullets in covered areas, and a system of internal pads that improve protection against blasts and their accompanying potential for brain trauma. That padding has been a source of controversy, as the US Marines’ Light Weight Helmets (LWH) have been criticized for lacking this feature. Gentex manufactures a variety of American military helmets including the ACH, and in January 2008 they received a $95 million contract for the USAF’s Modular Aircrew Common Helmets (MACH) worn by pilots. MSA North American is another ACH manufacturer, who almost certainly competed for this current contract.
UPDATE: The US Army recalls over 34,000 of Gentex’s helmets, and the matter finds itself entangled in the affairs of Gentex’s lobbying firm, which closed in March 2009 after an FBI investigation into illegal campaign contributions. Read “PMA Group: A Look Inside the Earmark Game” for more.