In the late 80’s the Soviet KGB issued a request for a new helmet to be issued to it’s elite troops in Afghanistan. The helmet was to provide extremely good protection over most of the user’s head. As this was to be mainly used in close quarters by units rapidly deployed from helicopter or armoured transport the weight was at that time a secondary issue.

The Soviets found the Swiss Psh-77 helmet, made by a company named TIG, ideal for their needs at the time and a trial batch was purchased and used by KGB special forces in Afghanistan. This motorcycle style helmet proved to be very effective but had it’s drawbacks. You could hardly achieve a cheek-weld and the mass was substantial compared to standard issue steel or kevlar helmets of the time.

Russian SOF Gear – Altyn helmet

With the fall of the Soviet Union work has begun on creating a home-made advanced version of the Psh-77. Later versions of the original included a detachable face-shield and a built in communication headset. These were also to be included in the new helmet. The NII Stalii company started producing titanium helmet shells in the early 90’s, some as thick as 4mm were sent off to the newly formed FSB to be fitted with a new style liner and communication equipment. The design of the face-shield was also changed. Thus the first Altyn helmets were created. Soon an additional layer of protective aramid fiber was added on the inside of the shell that allowed reduction of the shell’s thickness and thus its overall mass.

Russian SOF Gear – Altyn helmet

Russian SOF Gear – Altyn helmet

These helmets have seen extensive use as early as the Parliamentary crisis of 1993, both Chechen wars and in many other related incidents like the siege of Nord Ost or Beslan. They are still in use today among several regional FSB Spetsnaz units.

Weight with face-shield/visor: 4.3 kg (9.5 lb)

Resistance class: Russian Class II (9×19 Para, 9×18 Makarov, 7.62×25 Tokarev) In reality the helmet is also impenetrable by a handful off other pistol cartridges.

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