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Here's The Real Story Behind That Much-Hyped ‘Boba Fett’ Special Ops Helmet
At the beginning of August, the civilian world lapped up a titillating piece of military news: Britain’s elite Special Air Service warfighters are currently experimenting with the Devtac Ronin Kevlar Level IIIA Tactical Ballistic Helmet, a skeletal bulletproof mask enthusiastically dubbed the “Boba Fett” helmet by the British tabloids. A cross between Iron Man’s streamlined helmet and Maximus Decimus Meridius’ ghoulish mask in Gladiator, the Ronin looks designed to make the enemy shit his pants — and according to The Daily Mirror, that was enough for elite Navy SEALs and Delta Force operators reportedly among the first to test the futuristic new kit.
The story quickly went viral, aggregated by tabloids like The Sun, The Daily Mail, and the New York Post — even filtering down to military and tactical outlets. But there’s a big problem: Devtac has no contract with the Department of Defense, and nobody at U.S. Special Operations Command appears to have ever heard of the Ronin in an official capacity.
Yes, the Ronin is very real — and Devtac is no garage operations. Developed in Yokohama, Japan, starting in 2004, the Kevlar-reinforced ballistic helmet was officially NIJ Level 3A-verified in independent trials earlier this year, deemed capable of stopping a .44 Magnum slug. Reinforced with powerful N50 Neodymium magnets and featuring polycarbonate lenses, Picatinny rails, and an instant defogging system of built-in microjet fans, the modular headgear even started showing up at international weapons expos this year, according to Guns.com.
But Devtac owner and designer Wesley Shibata told Task & Purpose that while he could neither “confirm or deny” the purported relationship with the Special Air Service, he asserted that the company currently has no other defense contracts.
“The helmets are marketed to police, SWAT, and special operations, and we are currently working on sending out test samples,” Shibata told Task & Purpose. “The U.S. military has never used [the Ronin], but that is the ultimate goal.”
And as far as U.S. special operations forces are concerned, this helmet isn’t even on their radar yet.
“I cannot confirm that any U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) have tested or used these helmets, and since USSOCOM is not an operational headquarters I can't speak to any possible operational use of a helmet like this,” U.S. Special Operations Command PAO Lt. Cmdr Lara Bollinger told Task & Purpose. “USSOCOM's Acquisitions, Technology, and Logistics directorate has not seen or tested this helmet."
So how did the Mirror story get the Ronin’s details so wrong? Other than relying on a single unnamed “military source” who gave the Mirror a vague statement, Shibata claims that, other than the BBC and Tech Insider, media outlets didn’t even bother to call and ask Devtac, let alone SOCOM, for details about the futuristic new headgear.
“The info on the New York Post is a bit off on the features of the helmets,” Shibata told Task & Purpose via email. “Nobody ever interviewed us about it, really.”
There is one longshot explanation for the confusion: It's likely that lackluster reporters, perusing the company’s social media accounts for morsels of content, used this July photo from the Devtac Instagram allegedly showing a U.S. special operator in Afghanistan outfitted in a Ronin:
But as Shibata explained to Task & Purpose, Devtac’s current client base consists primarily of “private purchases and sample purchases by law enforcement, special forces, private security personnel, and civilian enthusiasts.” The random photo, if anything, just implies that “SOMEONE in special forces is using it,” Shibata told Task & Purpose. (It’s actually more likely the warfighter in the Instagram photo is a private security contractor, based on his Grunt Style t-shirt.)
SOCOM is certainly in the market for new helmets like the Ronin. In October 2016, defense contractor Revision Military unveiled a tactical multi-purpose helmet developed for the DoD with specialized add-ons for discrete operations, from direct action to HALO insertions. In May of this year, the command issued a pre-solicitation notice for a non-ballistic helmet system with modular ballistic accessories for the coxswains who operate advanced Navy SEAL watercraft. And the years-long tactical assault light operator suit (TALOS) project — you know, the “Iron Man armor” — should yield a fully functional prototype by 2018, including a high-tech helm that rivals the Ronin II in futuristic aesthetics.
Shibata hopes that, in time, the Pentagon and other national military establishments will come calling for the Ronin. But until then, he's just praying that journalists just pick up the phone.
“[There’s] no harm done so far, but [the coverage] has spook away some of our potential investors,” Shibata told Task & Purpose. The Devtac Instagram, on the other hand, carries a simpler, more direct message.
‘Take what’s inside and get it outside’ — Air Force psychologist reminds airmen of mental health resources
Kirtland Air Force Base isn't much different from the world beyond its gates when it comes to dealing with mental illnesses, a base clinical psychologist says.
Maj. Benjamin Carter told the Journal the most frequent diagnosis on the base is an anxiety disorder.
"It's not a surprise, but I anticipate about anytime in the population in America, about 20% of the population has some form of diagnosable anxiety disorder, and it's no different in the military," he said.
Leading the way among the anxiety disorders, he said, were post-traumatic stress disorder "or something like panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder."
The DNA of a niece and nephew, who never met their uncle, has helped identify the remains of the Kansas Marine who died in WWII.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced that 21-year-old U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Raymond Warren was identified using DNA and circumstantial evidence. Warren had been buried in a cemetery in the Gilbert Islands, where he was killed when U.S. forces tried to take secure one of the islands from the Japanese.
The Battle of Tarawa lasted from Nov. 20 to Nov. 23, 1943, and claimed the lives of 1,021 U.S. marines and sailors, more than 3,000 Japanese soldiers and an estimated 1,000 Korean laborers before the U.S. troops seized control, the agency said.
Arizona lawmakers are vowing to fight a plan by the Air Force to start retiring some of the nation's fleet of A-10 Thunderbolt II ground-attack jets — a major operation at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base — as part of a plan to drop some older, legacy weapon systems to help pay for new programs.
U.S. Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., a former A-10 pilot, and U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., both vowed to fight the move to retire 44 of the oldest A-10s starting this year.
During a press briefing last week, Air Force officials unveiled plans to start mothballing several older platforms, including retiring some A-10s even as it refits others with new wings.
MOSCOW/SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea, whose leader Kim Jong Un was filmed riding through the snow on a white stallion last year, has spent tens of thousands of dollars on 12 purebred horses from Russia, according to Russian customs data.
Accompanied by senior North Korean figures, Kim took two well-publicized rides on the snowy slopes of the sacred Paektu Mountain in October and December.
State media heralded the jaunts as important displays of strength in the face of international pressure and the photos of Kim astride a galloping white steed were seen around the world.
North Korea has a long history of buying pricey horses from Russia and customs data first reported by Seoul-based NK News suggests that North Korea may have bolstered its herd in October.
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - A high-profile local Taliban figure who announced and justified the 2012 attack on teenage Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai has escaped detention, Pakistan's interior minister confirmed a few days after the militant announced his breakout on social media.
Former Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan, who claimed responsibility on behalf of his group for scores of Taliban attacks, proclaimed his escape on Twitter and then in an audio message sent to Pakistani media earlier this month.
The Pakistani military, which had kept Ehsan in detention for three years, has declined to comment but, asked by reporters about the report, Interior Minister Ijaz Shah, said: "That is correct, that is correct."
Shah, a retired brigadier general, added that "you will hear good news" in response to questions about whether there had been progress in hunting down Ehsan.