Devtac are known for making some pretty awesome airsoft gear (they’ve not ventured into airsoft guns, just some awesome looking armour) which makes people look like a mix of Boba Fett/Halo/Army of Two/General Grievous.
Way back in March, we ran a story talking of the new Devtac Ronin Ballistic Helmet (found here for those of you who want to jog your memories), which was able to stop a .44 magnum slug at pretty close range.
But they have started to up their game a little bit in recent years, producing ballistic armour capable of stopping live bullets, which caught the eye of Navy SEALs and Delta Force who decided to give the armour a test run… Or did they?
Now, we whipped out our deerstalkers and went full Sherlock to try and find out the real story. It was the Daily Mirror who seemed to report that military groups were testing out the Ronin, and it was soon picked up by other news outlets such as the New York Post and The Daily Mail – the latter of which we know is not always the most reliable of sources!
The news soon filtered down into tactical and military news outlets, which seemed to generate a lot of excitement. But there is one issue; Devtac do not have a contract with the Department of Defense and no one at the U.S. Special Operations Command seems to have heard of the Ronin, in an official capacity anyway.
Devtac designer and owner Wesley Shibata has previously spoken to Task & Purpose stating the following:
“The helmets are marketed to police, SWAT, and special operations, and we are currently working on sending out test samples. The U.S. military has never used [the Ronin], but that is the ultimate goal.”
So, the word from the top is that they have had no contact with any U.S. special forces regarding the helmet. But what does the other party have to say? U.S. Special Operations Command PAO Lt. Cmdr Lara Bollinger also spoke to Task & Purpose, saying:
“I cannot confirm that any U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) have tested or used these helmets, and since USSOCOM is not an operational headquarters I can’t speak to any possible operational use of a helmet like this. USSOCOM’s Acquisitions, Technology, and Logistics directorate has not seen or tested this helmet.”
Both the military and the Devtac owner say the helmet hasn’t been tested in an official capacity, so who is saying that it has?
The original story from the Mirror merely quoted an “unnamed military source” who gave the following brief and vague statement:
“For years the defence industry has been trying to find a way of protecting the head and this is the next development. The helmet, already being used by special forces, is much more versatile than just stopping bullets. It is fitted with the latest communications technology and will help the soldier see the enemy no matter what the circumstances.”
Shibata himself says that multiple media outlets who have reported the story didn’t even contact him about the helmet. He explained in an email to Task & Purpose:
“The info on the New York Post is a bit off on the features of the helmets. Nobody ever interviewed us about it, really.”
The head scratching continues…
One possible thought about where this clickbait-esque story has come from is the Devtac Instagram. There is a picture featured that allegedly shows a U.S. Special Operator in Afghanistan wearing a Ronin. Putting two and two together, it could be that someone eager for a scoop has spotted the photo and filled in a few blanks.
But as Devtac’s current client base currently consists of private purchases made by enthusiasts (consisting of law enforcement, private security and special forces) it could have just been that someone in the military bought one themselves, and nowhere does it imply a military contract.
USSOCOM is certainly in the market for a new helmet, and the Ronin would fit the bill. Previous defence contractors have been developing prototypes for military applications, including the infamous TALOS project – aka the ‘Iron Man’ armour – which may rival Devtac’s efforts.
Shibata has said that he hopes that military outlets will come calling in due course, but the coverage has scared off some potential investors. Whether this is true or just a smokescreen is yet to be seen, but it is certainly something we will be keeping an eye on!