Lt. Col. Ginger Whitehead, product manager for Soldier protection equipment at Program Executive Office Soldier, points to the maxillofacial protection on the new Integrated Head Protection System, or IHPS, that saved a Soldier's life recently in Afghanistan when a brick was thrown at his neck. (U.S. Army/Gary Sheftick)

Editor's Note: This article by Matthew Cox originally appeared onMilitary.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

U.S. Army equipment officials said last week that the service's new helmet system, with includes detachable face and neck protection, saved a soldier's life recently in Afghanistan, blocking a brick that was thrown by an angry mob.

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Photo via DoD

Some of the most talented pilots in the U.S. armed forces are getting a major helmet upgrade. Contracting firm Defense Corporate on July 24 announced on Soldier System a $13 million contract with the Army to produce a new Apache Aviator Integrated Helmet (AAIH), a piece of hardware critical to the legendary AH-64 Apache helicopter.

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U.S. Army photo

The Army is pulling out all the stops in its race to make soldiers look as futuristic as possible — and be as safe as possible. Part of the Soldier Protection System, there’s new armor in the works, as well as a new helmet, which looks it was pulled from science fiction, or Airsoft. But the service isn’t forgetting the little things, like the importance of seeing what you’re shooting at, which is why it’s creating new glasses and goggles.

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U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Marcus Fichtl

There’s some good news for those with a deployment on the horizon: You could be among the first to receive the Army’s new armor — and unlike its predecessors, this one is lighter and scalable. Part of the Soldier Protection System, it includes a new ballistic helmet and eye protection that can switch from clear to dark shades in under a second. But the real standout is likely to be the new body armor.

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Photo by Sgt. Pete Thibodeau

One of the most iconic pieces of equipment worn by American service members is the combat helmet. From the flat-brimmed “Brodie” M1917 helmet worn by doughboys in World War I, to the M1 “Steel Pot” that troops wore throughout World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, helmets have come to represent American troops at war. Historically, these helmets have mainly been about protection against bumps, exploding shrapnel, and debris; until recently, helmets were not even rated to stop handgun bullets consistently. But in the past 15 years, helmets have evolved far past simple protection.

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