US combat troops choose Israeli lightweight helmet

Rabintex’s Shachar Bernard: The R-ACH helmet is made of armored fiber, and its purpose is to bring to the market the best ballistic performance available but at a reduced weight.American combat soldiers in hot spots around the world will be …

Rabintex’s Shachar Bernard: The R-ACH helmet is made of armored fiber, and its purpose is to bring to the market the best ballistic performance available but at a reduced weight.American combat soldiers in hot spots around the world will be safer next year, thanks to a new lightweight anti-fragment helmet developed by Israeli manufacturer Rabintex Industries Ltd.

The Herzliya-based company announced that it received the authorization to supply the US Army with their R-ACH advanced model of ballistic helmets in a deal worth $1.9 million.

“The helmets will be delivered by the beginning of next year, and while we can’t know for sure, we assume they’ll be used by the front lines of the American DOD (Dept. of Defense) in Iraq and other locations,” said Shachar Bernard, the marketing director of Rabintex.

According to Bernard, with a weight of 1,400 grams and a protection level of 9mm + extreme fragmentation protection against 2, 4, 16 & 64 grains at high speed, the R-ACH helmet provides a new standard in head protection.

“The R-ACH helmet is made of armored fiber, and its purpose is to bring to the market the best ballistic performance available but at a reduced weight,” he told ISRAEL21c. “That’s an essential element when you’re talking about head protection to have a helmet with reduced weight. It also enables better performance for the wearer.

“We’ve developed two types of helmets – the ‘ATTACK’ helmet which is designed more for bulletproof capabilities and the R-ACH, which is more for fragmentation. The American military was more concerned with fragments, based on their vast experience in their global activities. Law enforcement agencies or police forces which are dealing with criminal activities are more concerned with bullets would find the ATTACK helmet more fitting,” said Bernard.

Founded in 1950, Rabintex is a public company whose shares are traded in the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. The line of Rabintex products encompasses a variety of combat proven solutions for military and police use.

According to industry magazine Defense Review, the company offers an “extremely interesting product” in the Attack helmet. “Rabintex Industries Ltd. appears to be a prime example of Israeli ingenuity and industriousness in the military defense field. This is definitely a company to watch,” the magazine wrote in a review of the helmet.

“We have many separate product lines and we’re trying to bring new technology to each of our products – bulletproof vests, helmets, ballistic plates and inserts,” said Bernard.

According to Bernard, it took about two years of research and major investment, together with US partner Composix, to develop the R-ACH helmet.

“In order to be able to sell to the DOD, the R&D must be done in the US. So it was a situation of bringing the Israeli know how and technology to the US and using Composix’s American facilities in Newark, Ohio. We incorporated the vast experience that Israel has in the field to develop ideas on ballistic protection, and together with our US partner we were able to develop a product that was attractive and met the US needs,” he said.

Rabintex and Composix cemented their relationship in 2004 through the establishment of the US subsidiary Rabintex Holdings USA Inc. aimed at approaching the US military market.

“We established Rabintex USA in 2004 with the aim of using Israeli technology to produce products for the American market. We’ve put a lot of effort into the R-ACH helmet, and now we’re about to increase out activity in other fields, and to offer other American military and law enforcement entities helmets and bulletproof vests.”

Among the products Rabintex is touting are Knightex – ultra-light bulletproof panel used as inserts for ballistic vests, and Breeze – an active air circulation system for bulletproof vests.

Rabintex has been a major defense product supplier in many markets, including naturally for the Israel Defense Forces, but also for the US law enforcement market, the Australian Army, and in Central and South America. It has also recently become a most significant player in West Europe.

Last year, the company along with its Irish partners Daniel Technologies, were awarded a $2 million contract to supply ballistic helmets to the Irish Defense Forces.

“The award of the Irish Defense Forces tender followed another helmet contract awarded to Rabintex in Cyprus. These recent successes, combined with Rabintex’s contract as sole supplier of the ‘Enhanced Combat Helmet’ to the Australian Defense Forces for the next 7 years, are proof of Rabintex’s commitment to developing the most advanced personal protection equipment, and becoming a world leader in the supply of the world’s advanced armies with our equipment,” said Bernard.

Rabintex sees the US purchase of the R-ACH helmets as a confirmation of its participation in a project worth approximately $250-million that will be divided among up to four suppliers over a number of years. It is estimated that Rabintex’s share will amount to a total of tens of millions of dollars over five years.

“We think this is a vote of confidence in Israeli technology and in Rabintex US. The American customer defined exactly what shape, performance and weight they wanted, and we used American raw materials to achieve the right solution, but everyone knew it was Israeli technology behind it,” said Bernard.

“We’re very proud and excited that we as Israelis have this kind of opportunity to support our friends in the US.”