May 17th, 2010
02:31 PM ET

Army recalling 44,000 combat helmets

WASHINGTON (CNN) – The U.S. Army is recalling 44,000 Advanced Combat Helmets (ACH), some of which are being used by troops already deployed in combat zones in Afghanistan, because of a concern they do not meet ballistic and other standards required by the Army.

The Army recalled the helmets, which are standard issue for all soldiers, last Thursday after receiving ballistic test results that showed the helmets did not meet the services requirements, according to Brig. Gen. Peter N. Fuller, chief of testing and buying equipment for soldiers. Watch CNN's Chris Lawrence's report on the recall

The recall was triggered after the Army was told by the Department of Justice of an ongoing investigation into the company that makes the helmets, ArmorSource LLC, formerly Rabintex USA LLC.

"There is evidence that ArmorSource and Rabintex ACHs were produced using unauthorized manufacturing practices, defective materials and improper quality procedures which could potentially reduce ballistic and fragmentation protection," according to an All Army Activities message released May 14 to soldiers around the world.

After the Army's notification by the DoJ the Army conducted ballistic test on the helmets which failed the services standards. It is unclear why the helmets failed during these tests but passed the initial tests when the Army initially contracted with ArmorSource in 2006.

The Army also has 55,000 additional helmets in storage that have not been handed out. Those helmets are also part of the recall and will be destroyed to ensure they are not distributed, according to Gen. Fuller.

The Army refused to accept another 3,000 from the company, bringing the total of problem helmets to 102,000, Fuller said.

Each helmet costs $250 and Fuller said they are attempting to see if they can recover the money paid to the company.

At a press conference at the Pentagon Gen. Fuller told reporters he was not aware of any injuries or deaths related to the recalled helmets.

The 44,000 recalled helmets had been sent to locations all over the world for distribution. Some 24,000 of the 44,000 were sent to a distribution center that gives them to other services as well.

"We don't know where they are, so they could be on a soldier's head in Iraq or Afghanistan," Fuller said of the 44,000 helmets.

"We are seeing some getting returned in Bagram (Afghanistan)," Fuller said.

Army officials acknowledge that there are some helmets probably in Iraq as well.

ArmorSource posted a statement on their website saying the Army had not told them about what was going on.

"ArmorSource was not informed of this recall before we saw the press release on Friday evening. We have not heard from the Government regarding the recall and have no additional information," according to the statement.

Army officials said they were not required to tell the company because the service owned the helmets.
Gen. Fuller said the Army had already broken the contract with ArmorSource earlier in the year because of other problems with the helmets.

Army officials could not discuss details about the problems with the helmets because of the DoJ investigation, but said the ballistic tests showed the helmets would not protect a solider against a "worst case scenario" strike on the helmet.

Gen. Fuller said general ballistics tests showed that while a bullet would not penetrate through the helmet, the test still failed stringent Army requirements and "fell short of the required ballistics test."

Four companies make the ACH including ArmorSource, according to the Army and replacement helmets are already begin distributed, according to an Army statement.

The Army started contracting with ArmorSource in 2006 and received the first helmets in 2007. In November of 2009 concern surrounding paint chipping off of the helmets led the Army to eventually end their contract early with ArmorSource earlier this year, according to Gen. Fuller.

The recall makes up about 4 percent of more than one million ACHs in the Army's inventory, according to Army statistics.

soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. sayed

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    May 30, 2010 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  2. Dona

    RABINTEX INDUSTRIES LTD sold its rights with these helmets, which had 50%, in January 2008.

    SO AFTER JANUARY 2008 ARMORSOURCE 0 IS COMPLETELY U.S. COMPANY WITH NO CONNECTION WHATEVER WITH ISRAELI COMPANY AND ISRAEL.

    If these helmets were manufactured after January 2008 you can't blame Israeli company and all the more so Israel.

    May 30, 2010 at 6:33 am | Report abuse |
  3. zandromd

    I don't think that the US army could ever recoup the money given to these jokers. the best thing to do is get all the manufacturer's executives, line them up on a firing range, make them wear their lousy helmets, then shoot them in the head. if they survive, then good for them. if not, then they had it coming to them.

    May 22, 2010 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  4. jimi

    I personally know the top management of this company , and there is no way that there is any intentional use of defective product in the manufacture of these helmets . I have been in this factory many times . Thier manufacturing processes are of the highest order using state of the art equipment . I urge everyone to refrain from judgement . This is America , and part of the reason that our men are fighting is to protect ones right to be viewed as innocent until proven guilty .

    May 20, 2010 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bill S.

    If true, (and I believe it is) this is a horrible story. How can anyone !!!ANYONE!!! put our troops in greater danger by allowing defective equipment to be used. I know this has happened before, I'm not naive or stupid but, those responsible for this should be charged with treason and if convicted, giving them the death penalty.

    May 20, 2010 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. military mom

    great!!!!! just what makes me feel so comfortable that my son is serving his country with the best equipment possible!!!! sic
    what about their vest and their rifle and their ammunition–whats next this is so wrong let alone the vehicle problem.

    May 20, 2010 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
  7. SPC4 Wage Slave

    I am serving in Helmand right now. We got the word about these helmets yesterday. The ones in question have a blue sticker inside the ACH on the flared edge by the earpiece. If you have one of these, go talk to your CO immediatley and hopefully they can resupply you soon. If your like me, your optempo and location doesn't necissarily make this easy.
    As a side note, the RFI we get is rarely useful. Most of it is overpriced crap that you and I both know was barely tested before it was fielded. This recall is no surprise. People may cry foul because it looks shady, I say its all a result of trying to bridge land warrior and the old system too quickly. Hence, we have ACUs that tear easily and that have a pattern that may only blend in at a gravel pit.
    Also, if you want to get really sick, check out what a WALK bag costs the US government. We don't even use them if we have a SKED litter available and a well stocked CLS bag.

    May 20, 2010 at 4:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Kelly

      Just to give you an update. There are now 3 companies that with 3 different sticker you need to look for on your ACH. In addition, the army is transitioning to multicam in afghanistan, however only combat units (not support soldiers) are going to receive it first. And half that crap you get issued at RFI is actually being tested by you.

      May 20, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Former Marine

    Those who say the military doesn't sell to the lowest bidder is absolutely and utterly insane at best. You have no real comprehension on the subject at all. You're obviously not or never have been in the service, or you would know, the equipment we get is GARBAGE compared to what some of these private contractors get. I know most of these current vets remember the days of "Dragon Skin" Body Armor, that actually protected you, but it never went out into the military's usage. It was so bad, parents went out and paid 400 a vest and shipped it to their servicemembers overseas. But apparently, it's shelf life didn't live up to expectations, or it couldn't take a rapid succession of bullets, which is a load of crap. The military LOVES to sell to the lowest bidder, because that means they can afford to buy new toys they don't need. The cheaper the equipment, the more expensive Tomahawk Cruise Missiles they can afford to buy and launch at single enemy targets inside mud huts.

    May 19, 2010 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  9. marti

    They have the same issue with bolistic vests. Those vest are supposed to be traded out every year because the heat deteriorates the material. It does not happen. The flack jackets are sh**.

    May 19, 2010 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  10. False Flag

    This scam is exactly why young American soldiers & Marines are dying in Iraq & Afghanistan. They are there to fight for freedom...the freedom of corporations to make defective products, sell them to the US gov't at an inflated price, and be totally unaccountable for the consequences. This is the American way that our armed forces are fighting for. I wonder how many legislators have stock in this company???

    May 19, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. John S.

    Everyone is outraged as they should over these inadequate helmets. But where is the rage over all of the combat vehicles that were purchased before the start of either war that weren't even properly armored to withstand attack? Thousands have died because the military sent them into combat with vehicles that weren't properly designed in the first place. And yet our government officials had the guts to say our forces were the best equipped in the world.

    May 19, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. LLBD

    Female Veteran here – I remember when the Kevlar helmets came out – they bobbled around on my head, weren't steady, but presumably they would keep my noggin safer than the old steel pot that I could use in a variety of ways. But...to learn that today's helmets are not safe for our troops just scares me to no end. Do you mean to say – that they were issued before testing them??? What is wrong with this picture. Its like a bulls eye on the heads of our troops. GET WITH THE PROGRAM dudes, make safe helmets and issue AFTER testing.

    May 19, 2010 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  13. Quana

    I hope the army can get the promblem resolved! My brother is enlisted as a solider and i would think they would want to protect those who are serving their purpose.

    May 19, 2010 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  14. Spence

    Yes, those "better helmets" will insure victory! Defeating the enemies of our glorious democracy, our righteous cause must be furthered. Of course all of this international policing comes at a helfty price tag, not to mention the fatalities part. Winning friends around the world.

    May 19, 2010 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  15. ray

    Take the ceo and his board,give them each a helmet tell them to put it on and then fire a AK47 at each helmet.Then move on to the next helmet until all are tested.Then we see if they have used cheap materials. Fair is fair.

    May 18, 2010 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Drake Bozono

    If you believe that, you deserve a hole in your head!

    May 18, 2010 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobby

      you, are very dangerous man , and too many others like you...

      May 21, 2010 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Smith in Oregon

    @ stormvet13, with many heavier caliber rounds (unlike the tiny 5.56mm Nato mouse round), you have nearly 2,000 foot pounds of force within the lethal range of that weapon. Meaning large head and neck trauma from a impact to a soldiers helmet regardless if it penetrates or not. Most 'actual' sniper rifles would penetrate any helmet a soldier would be capable of wearing for any extent of time in a war zone. In regards to the 50 caliber and 20 mm sniper rifles, NO HELMET is going to stop those heavy bullets or cannon slugs.

    If a soldier wore enough Kevlar and ballistic plates to stop a 50 caliber round in the chest, the impact alone would likely crush their lungs and also shut-down the heart and other organs.

    May 18, 2010 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • v8440

      No one in their right mind would waste a 20mm round shooting at an individual soldier unless that was the only thing they had available. Those are antimateriel rounds. A .50 cal round is possible, but wouldn't you think it would be pretty rare? I mean, surely more ak's are toted around by the enemy than .50 cal sniper rifles. Nevertheless, if a 9mm pistol round is the standard, they're sunk. If our helmets could withstand the 7.62×39 round fired by an ak47 then I could see some meaningful protection. That might be possible-the 7.62×39 is considered a medium powered round, unlike the nato 7.62×51 or the old reliable .30-06.

      May 19, 2010 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
  18. Smith in Oregon

    Not to worry, if the IRS can locate a serviceman's bank account and empty it completely over a 20 dollar back tax claim, federal agents can locate 44,000 Republican corporate defective helmets if they really want to.

    May 18, 2010 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
  19. stormvet13

    these helmets CAN be penetrated by a rifle slug. they will deflect a 9mm pistol, but if your sniped, your dead!

    May 18, 2010 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  20. Alonia Anderson

    I posted earlier, that one important lesson learned from the DeepHorizon Operation that effective and efficient company practices is necessary. Now that everyone those in the Military sector and the private sector will be aware of this and make sure these company practices are in place and followed to take social responsibility to ensure security and welfare of the people whether soldiers or civilian. It is vital to the well-being of everyone involved. Checking equipment and having the available technology is necessary. To cost-save on such issues is not an option.

    May 18, 2010 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  21. Waterman

    Dont you think something as important as a helmet would be randomly tested by the military?

    May 18, 2010 at 7:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      Clearly it was not. In this case I hope a court martial is forthcoming.

      May 18, 2010 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
  22. Nick

    I cannot say this more clearly: if as a result of defective equipment a single soldier dies, then there should be a homicide investigation carrying the severest of penalties including capital punishment. To insist upon these standards will shakeout the manufacturers who try to game the system and bilk the taxpayers, and far from making military manufacture a problem, will promote the best and most diligent manufacturers to succeed. There are people who care and they should be justly rewarded.

    May 18, 2010 at 7:14 am | Report abuse |
    • TJRedneck

      Amen brother.

      May 18, 2010 at 8:43 am | Report abuse |
  23. deforge

    round the company officials up. dress them up in these helmets, staple a print out of South Park Muhammad to their front and back, and drop them off in the middle of Kandahar.

    for funsies

    May 18, 2010 at 7:13 am | Report abuse |
  24. Sniper

    Having served 25 years in the military, there have been many instances of being on the receiving end of defective equipment. My question is: Why have the officers who received kick-backs from the companies involved not been prosecuted? Maybe we should put the officers up front, they do nothing and get the awards when it is the enlisted man who makes the sacrifice.

    May 18, 2010 at 6:50 am | Report abuse |
  25. Patriot in West(by God) Virginia

    Jim Pipkin

    well said,

    God Bless Our Troops

    May 18, 2010 at 6:10 am | Report abuse |
  26. Rick

    Head gear in the military is garbage. It is for light fragmentation protection, but mainly it is for the psychological moral boost to the wearer. Most people are not aware that the standard issue helmet is designed to stop a 9mm (small pistol round) and nothing more. The guys we fight don't use pistols, and their large rifle rounds sail right on through the front and out the back of what most troops on the field are wearing.

    May 18, 2010 at 6:08 am | Report abuse |
  27. Jim Pipkin

    It isn't about more taxes – we spend over $400 billion dollars each year on our defense – it is about better oversight, more transparency, and LISTENING TO THE TROOPS.

    May 18, 2010 at 5:36 am | Report abuse |
  28. JesusJr

    You know guys, if you want the army to stop buying crappy gear and go with quality manufacturers, you really need to demand tax raises so that there is money to pay for quality gear. You get what you pay for. Right now, Americans don't want to pay for anything, so we get junk in return.

    May 18, 2010 at 5:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      That is a pathetic argument. The logical thrust of your argument is if the people don't want to pay for army equipment, then perhaps the politicians should think twice about waging wars. Not that we should equip them with defective equipment.

      May 18, 2010 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |
  29. docmga

    I have two son's in the Air Force, one of which is training as a Pararescue Jumper, the other as a Search and Rescue Pilot. God forbid anything happens to ANY service man/woman related to this faulty equipment. Time to hold the CEO's and administrators of these companies responsible. Federal Prison and significant damages paid to individual injured as well as substantial fines should make them think twice about taking chances with our soldiers lives.

    May 18, 2010 at 4:27 am | Report abuse |
  30. Michael W.

    I am not willing to condemn the manufacturer on the word of the army that gave us the Tillman episode. The problem is that we do not know what test failed, why it failed, and how the other manufactures helmets preformed. Does some general have a brother-in-law owning one of the other companies making helmets? I would need to know the whole story.

    May 18, 2010 at 4:18 am | Report abuse |
  31. retiredwarrior

    Hello out there...military contracts are almost always awarded to the lowest bidder......doesn't that tell you something???

    May 18, 2010 at 3:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      That is absolutely untrue. During the Bush administration more than half of all monies expended was handed out without bidding contests to 'friends' of the party. Just check Cheney's record with Haliburton, the company he used to be CEO of.

      May 18, 2010 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
      • Robert Meek

        It was implied, the way it was presented, that this was historically the exception, new under Bush/Cheney, rather than the rule, but be that as it may, I hardly see that as any indication that the safety/quality factor might be regarded as high and effective! Either way, be it backhanded deals or cheapest bids, both imply we are not truly supporting our troops with actions, more than just words.

        May 19, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  32. David Parsons

    It's unfortunate that sometimes the corporation's bottom-line is at odds with saving human lives.

    May 18, 2010 at 3:32 am | Report abuse |
    • giz

      just "sometimes"?

      May 18, 2010 at 5:50 am | Report abuse |
  33. Bob Bobsen

    You know, as I used to manually crimp blasting caps onto det cord, the words "contract awarded to the lowest bidder"; would without fail make me shudder!
    Former 19d and proud of it.....

    May 18, 2010 at 2:42 am | Report abuse |
  34. Steven

    I served 5 years in the army and was in when we "upgraded" to the ACH's. All the gear issued by the military is far from top of the line. The body armor is bulky and too turtle like. I had to exchange 3 sets of SAPI plates (the ceramic inserts) due to them cracking or crumbling. We are the greatest fighting force on the planet but we force our troops to use gear made by the cheapest bidder. Until this changes there will always be the chance of mass recalls like this one.

    May 18, 2010 at 2:40 am | Report abuse |
    • ReplytoIdiots

      Your an idiot... the military does not purchase from the cheapest bidder. Thorough testing is done and all issues recording during testing to determine the safest and most reliable piece of equipement. When it comes to items such as body armor, cost has the smallest weight.

      May 18, 2010 at 6:48 am | Report abuse |
      • Dennis

        I always laugh when someone writes "Your an idiot."

        You're an idiot.

        May 18, 2010 at 6:54 am | Report abuse |
      • TJRedneck

        No, you are the idiot. Yes, the vast majority of the time, it IS the lowest bidder that gets the contract, I work for the government that's the way it works. It is usually a company that has a powerful Congressman and/or Senator representing them. The company then offers the lowest bid, the Senator brags about how great this company is and how they are saving the taxpayer all this money, then after the company gets the contract, after the first year, the company jacks up the cost while cutting corners anyway they can.

        May 18, 2010 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
      • McNeil

        I think you mean you're an idiot. Pot, meet kettle

        May 18, 2010 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
      • marti

        You must be one of those idiots the "BEAN COUNTER" making decisions for troops sitting behind a desk or you are the idiot that has no idea that on everything the government takes the lowest bidder. It is like that on all government contracts..... Do the research idiot!

        May 19, 2010 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  35. MoJo

    LLC means Limited Liability ... tough sh** ... buy from a bigger company next time. Maybe you will get a refund, uncle sam ...

    May 18, 2010 at 2:31 am | Report abuse |
  36. Matt

    *Maybe they can use them*

    May 18, 2010 at 2:29 am | Report abuse |
  37. Matt

    I'm sure they'll make their way to the domestic US police, like most military hardware does. Maybe them can use them to protect themselves as they execute more sleeping babies like they just did in Detroit. Nothing like a police state to brew a good old fashioned uprising.

    May 18, 2010 at 2:29 am | Report abuse |
  38. VeeRose

    My ACH is not made by these @ssholes. I know my IOTV (present day bulletproof vest) doesn't fit me right. When I was fitted for mine they said it was good (were fitted for the vests without the plates in them), but as soon as I got to Iraq it started sagging lower and lower and now the plates don't protect certain vital organs. The wire that allowes you to pull a lever to break open the vest (in case of a rollover into water you can easily remove the vest) has come undone, leaving part of the vest hanging off my side. I've seen this happen to other people's vests while we were outside the wire. Not cool! I should turn in my vest, but I'm complacent with one last 'fishing trip' to go and having seen no action here. Now that I think about it I really need to turn this POS in before it's too late. Demand that your IOTV is fitted with the plates in it!

    May 18, 2010 at 2:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Rocerman

      Why didn't your turn it in and get a new one earlier? Let me guess, Reservist.

      May 23, 2010 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
  39. SFCMike

    Take every officer, manager and employee of this company who have any responsibility for this, either actively or passively, and put them in the field, wearing their own helmets. Keep them in the field until every last one has a head wound, fatal or otherwse, due to the "defects" (aka fraud) in their product.

    May 18, 2010 at 2:14 am | Report abuse |
  40. PJ

    "some of which are being used by troops already deployed in combat zones in Afghanistan". Please don't tell me they lobbied about how above spec they were, only to find out on the battle field they were being deceitful to get money...

    May 18, 2010 at 2:07 am | Report abuse |
  41. Jeff

    If this turns out to be a case of purposeful neglect or worse then the officers of this company should be put in the deepest hole the Federal prison system can find for them.

    May 18, 2010 at 2:07 am | Report abuse |
  42. Tad Pole

    So.. let me do some math... we are talking roughly $25 million, and they are defective... umm.. defective due to the manufacturer using, "unauthorized manufacturing practices, defective materials and improper quality procedures ".
    And this particular product is, without a doubt, vital to the survival of a soldier in the field. It kinda makes me wonder, as I'm sure it makes the many soldiers wonder, "What else do am I carrying with me that is defective?". And now the government is looking into *if* they can get the money back, because most likely the company will simply pay out a portion, and then file for bankrupcy, right? And the people who were responsible for the decisions leading to this incredible incident will still have collected the money paid to them (through the government) over the last few years and, like *Blackwater*, most likely simply start a new company to provide the same services in the not so distant future. I think it is time to hold the PEOPLE in these companies more accountable. If the facts really play out to be as it sounds in this article, I say "JAIL". (Which is a very mild punishment all things considered)

    May 18, 2010 at 2:03 am | Report abuse |
    • jayman419

      I agree it's ridiculous to wonder "if" they can get their money back, and to think that this company and its employees deliberately risked the lives of our soldiers but will face no punishment whatsoever.

      I think it'd be fair to ask them to do a 2 week combat tour in either Iraq or Afghanistan with their helmets and any other "failed" equipment we can find laying around.

      May 18, 2010 at 5:17 am | Report abuse |