The Naval Aircrew Systems program office (PMA-202) has developed and fielded new headgear, known as the Head Gear Unit Number 98/Personal Use (HGU-98P), that improves both head and hearing protection for fleet Marine Corps aviation maintainers. The HGU-98/P is the result of the latest advancements and information gathered from market research, lab testing, and fleet assessments.
“The HGU-98/P provides improved impact protection and increased hearing protection, which are long overdue improvements that our maintainers deserve,” said Capt. Carey Castelein, PMA-202 program manager.
For decades, designing helmets that offer the required impact and hearing protection while providing a comfortable fit has been a challenge. Flight lines and flight decks are notoriously loud, making a safe and comfortable helmet mission critical. The new cranial was selected after careful consideration of these factors.
The Team Wendy Exfil Light Tactical Polymer helmet was selected as the Commercial-off-the-Shelf solution to address these challenges. The HGU-98/P comes in two sizes and has an alternate H-shaped back retention system to accommodate a hair bun. The helmet also features two different styles of hearing protection, both rail-mounted to the helmet, with either X4 ear cups for a slimmer fit or X5 with larger ear cups but with better sound attenuation.
“Through research, testing, and fleet assessments, our team was able to determine the best possible solution for improved head and hearing protection, taking into account cost, performance, and user feedback,” said Jennifer Bartnick, PMA-202 team lead.
Squadrons began receiving the HGU-98/P flight deck helmet system in October 2022 and have given favorable feedback. Fielding to Marine Corps aviation units will continue through the end of the year, and the cranial with additional capability will begin delivery next year.
The HGU-98/P provides much-needed improvements to the headgear worn by Marine Corps aviation maintainers. “I love the new helmet; it’s comfortable, fits well, and the new hearing protection is amazing,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Yunker, a Marine Corps aviation maintainer.
The PMA-202 portfolio consists of Personal Protective Equipment, Combat Survivability and Perseverance, Physiological Episode Protection, Visual Situational Awareness, Ejection & Crash Survivability/Egress, and Chemical Biological Defense Exposure Protection programs. The office analyzes, develops, and delivers innovative solutions that optimize the effectiveness of warfighters, ensuring they are equipped with systems that directly support the aircrew, aviation maintainers, and aircraft passengers in the performance of their missions.