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During the mid-1980s, the Swiss AF was looking for an aircraft suitable to replace the Mirage III. Among those evaluated the Northrop F-20, Mirage 2000, F-16 and the F/A-18, the evaluation winner.

Due to the ever-improving performance and air combat tactics, pilots were increasingly exposed to high acceleration. As a result, according to the Dübendorf FAI (Fliegerärtzliches Institut - Aero Medical Institute), spinal disorders were increasing observed with the weight of the pilot's helmet/mask system playing an important role.

The FAI consequently proposed to the AF to evaluate/ purchase new lightweight helmet and mask systems, with the lowest possible weight, optimal centre of gravity and good wearing comfort.

The helmets currently in use were the Gueneau 316 and the DH-151, equally considered of "old" design and no longer compatible with the performances of the new aircraft generation, especially in terms of weight.

The “new” HGU-55 was entering in service, planned to replace them both. According to those who had managed its introduction there was not a real evaluation, the HGU-55 deemed the best option regarding system compatibility with the also new Northrop F-5E/F Tiger II.

In the meantime, most likely for economic reasons - "local" and "ad interim" solutions sought. Given the availability of spare parts, HGU-55 "lookalikes" created with shells of grey painted DH-151 fitted with modified Gueneau 316 and HGU-55 bungee visors.

However, considering the problems mentioned above, an evaluation campaign aimed at finding lighter systems took place between 1986 and the early 1990s.

For more details about the evaluation, see HERE  

One of these systems was the Gentex H-ATS. In none of the documentation we had the opportunity to review, the meaning of the acronym is explained; if anyone out there knows about it (at Carbondale or Rancho Cucamonga, perhaps?), we would more than happy to get in touch.

Contrary to our policy of showing items belonging to our collections, due to its historical interest, uniqueness and lack of technical documentation, we asked the current owner who kindly lent us the helmet  in order to closely examine it. Thank you E.!

The (Small size) helmet shell is painted with what it appears to be the standard HGU-55 Federal Standard 595C Dark Gull Grey 36231, featuring glossy white and matt black stripe decorations.


The shell shape is the same or very much like as that of a Toptex helmet, ( see below pictures – LH H-ATS, RH Toptex - the company merged with Gentex) fitted with leather-covered edge roll and leather visor stops for double (bungee) visors; trimmed “elephant ears”, that would appear to have been added at a later stage.

This was probably a Swiss AF installation, made from the same leather material as the “Modifiziert” Gueneau 316 paddings. Another of the three specimens photographed during the trials shows “standard” shaped elephant ears like those of the HGU-55.


The helmet was tested with an early HA-LP mask; ground and flight test were carried out on Pilatus PC-7, F-5 and Mirage III.


For Mirage operation, the mask 3 pin connector coupled to a local made adapter to an AMP connector. Mask comm cable CX-4707C/AIC.

Due to lack of specific documentation, it could be assumed that the H-ATS was proposed as something between an improved HGU-55 and a low-end Toptex. However, given the few potential advantages over the HGU-55, which we remember was entering service, the H-ATS not deemed as a worthy replacement.

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