Rheinmetall AG & Galvion to Supply 20,000 Batlskin Viper P4 Helmets to Germany’s Special Forces Units

Rheinmetall AG and Galvion signed a framework agreement last Friday to govern the delivery of 20,000 Viper P4 helmets to the German military. The contract provides for an initial production order of 5,000 units and the provision of after-market services, which will cover unit maintenance and repair. The total order price has been revealed to be between €10M and €99M, with Rheinmetall suggesting the price rests at the lower end of this range. The Viper P4 will replace the German military’s 1992 vintage, Schuberth built M92 Gefechtshelm combat helms. The Viper P4 head protection solution is part of Galvion’s Batlskin range of military and paramilitary headgear. The manufacture of the products will take place at the company’s primary fabrication facility at Newport, Vermont. Once the units have been created they will be shipped to Germany, where the equipment distribution to the German military will be undertaken by Rheinmetall’s Baden-Württemberg based subsidiary, Rheinmetall Soldier Electronics. Rheinmetall Soldier Electronics, part of Rheinmetall’s defence division specializes in the provision of laser based products for infantry centric clients. The final destination for the Viper P4’s will be to Germany’s special forces elements, the Bundeswehr’s Kommando Spezial Krafte (KSK) regiment and the Deutsche Marine’s Kommando Spezialkräfte Marine (KSM) unit. The procurement of the Viper P4’s has been sought in preparation for Germany to lead NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) from 2023. The contract will be active from 2020 to 2025 whereupon it can be renewed for an additional two years.

The reception of the Viper P4 into Germany’s special forces, will seek to begin the transition away from the Bundeswehr’s current 20th century designed, M92 synthetic fibre-based Gefechtshelm. The M92 is a modified PASGT design, constructed from sixteen layers of the synthetic Aramid fibre known as Kevlar. The formation of the M92 involved the treating of this Kevlar base with a phenolic resin, designed to bind the layers of synthetic fibre together to create a single hardened product. The provision of the Viper P4 is a step away from the use of fibres altogether utilizing polymers instead, namely the Polyethylene derivative, Ultra-High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE). Polyethylene is transformed into UHMWPE through a crystallization process, changing raw Polyethylene from a fully/semi-liquid substance to a strong solid. UHMWPE is formed when the crystallization of the base material reaches 39% -75%. The resulting material has a heightened ability to absorb energy without fracture and a high resistance to deformation under tensile stress. UHMWPE affords the user excellent resistance corrosive materials and is fifteen times more abrasion resistant than carbon steel. The use of UHMWPE grants the Viper P4 helmets NIJ IIIA resistance to 8.1g SIG 9mm FMJ rounds at a velocity of 448 m/s and .44 magnum semi-jacketed hollow point (SJHP) rounds at a velocity of 436 m/s. The Viper P4 can also resist blunt strikes at a movement speed of ten feet per second. The Viper P4 weighs 1,120g with a head circumference size range of between 515mm for small up to 620mm for extra large.

Galvion was formed in 2019 from the remains of Revision Military. Revision Military, founded in 2001 had provided military clients with both protective headwear and eyewear for eighteen years. The selling off of the eyewear product line to ASGARD Partners & Co. led to a rebranding exercise resulting in the current firm’s creation. Galvion is based in US with two main facilities at Newport, Vermont and Marlborough, Massachusetts. The company’s business presence does not limit itself to the US, with additional facilities in Montreal and London. Galvion’s product lines aside from the Viper include the Caiman and the Cobra. Outside of headwear, the company additionally produces portable power management solutions for the US military. The local distributor, charged with handing the units to the Bundeswehr and Deutsche Marine, Rheinmetall Soldier Electronics GmbH is a subsidiary of Rheinmetall defence based in Stockach. The company employees a one hundred strong force and chiefly develops laser based accuracy enhancement systems. The subsidiary’s products include fire control for 40mm hand-held grenade launchers, weapon mounted laser sights, laser target markers, collaborative ballistic computer/laser target marking systems and laser illuminators. Germany’s special forces consisting of the KSK and KSM were founded in 1958 and 1994 respectively and are housed within the German military’s Joint Operations Command. The contract will be overseen by the German government’s defence procurement agency, BAAINBw which will be charged with the stockpiling and integration of the devices within the Bundeswehr post-delivery. The successful execution of the contract will see Galvion increase its reputation and presence in the European defence market.