The JUŠ M-89 (Jugoslovenski Univerzalni Šlem Model 1989, meaning; Yugoslavian Universal Helmet, in Serbian) was originally a YPA (Yugoslavian People's Army) two piece kevlar combat helmet, designed and firstly issued in 1989 (as its sole designation clearly points), together with the all out new M-89 five color camouflage pattern cotton uniform (originally introduced two year earlier and designed as M-87), as a part of Army modernization program which started in second half of 1980s. It was intended to replace the slowly outdated and obsolete M-59/85 steel combat helmet in literally all branches of Yugoslav Armed Forces (including even special police forces of their People's Militsiya), which was being used from 1959 and was actually based on WWII German (Wehrmacht) design, their famous Stahlhelm M35/40/42 (Steel helmet Model 1935/1940/1942).
However, due to being introduced way too late (just a year or two before the final breakup of SFRY and beginning of Yugoslavian wars of 1990s), the M-89 helmet remained almost unused in YPA until the very end and the standard M-59/85 steel helmet was continued to be extensively used and even produced well into the 1990s and even 21st century (only by Serbian forces, which were and are the direct successors of YPA). Neverthless, it was continued to be produced and officially used, but only by newly formed ARM (Armija Republike Makedonije - Macedonian Army), which was actually due to pure logical fact - since it was being manufactured only in a single factory in the former SFRY, the 11 Oktomvri Eurokompozit (11th October Eurocomposite), located in the Macedonian town of Prilep. Exactly due to that issue, the production of recently discontinued M-59/85 helmet was reactivated in Serbia and Montenegro after the breakup (in 1991) and continued to be officially used until the end of 1990s by their army, while the severely restricted supply of M-89 helmets received before the breakup was mostly used by their special police forces and due to that, painted in dark blue color (exactly due to which the police variant is almost as often as the standard army variant). Despite being officially used by Macedonian army still today, the M-89 is actually very rare item on the market and due to that, more valued than the standard and much easier to acquire M-59/85 steel helmet. Today, it is colloquially known simply as Šlem or Šljem M89 (in Serbian) or Kaciga M89 (Croatian), while in English speaking world, it is known as Yugo kevlar helmet or M89 helmet.
Overview and design Edit
By its design, the M-89 combat helmet was literally just the already existing M-59/95 with only material changed from one piece steel to two layered kevlar - exactly due to which it featured distinctive seven screws (three at the sides and one at the front) clearly visible, in order for layers to be properly nailed to each other. The insides of the M-89 helmet are also roughly equal to the M-59 - featuring the same canvas strap with aluminium adjusting, genuine leather ring and canvas lining. However, it still had few trivial changes when compared to its predecessor, as an example it features the also distinctive bulged edges and it never came printed with a classic red star (world wide communist symbol) as found in M-59/85, due to the fact that it was noticed that this only resembles a target as well as the fact that the M-89 was intended to be always worn with M-87/89 five color camouflage pattern helmet cover above (Navlaka šlema M-87/89), which came printed with a star instead and which was one of six components of newly introduced and already mentioned M-87/89 cotton combat uniform introduced in the same year as the helmet.
Due to featuring the previously described two layered kevlar design, the M-89 was a truly vast improvement over its predecessor; by being somewhat lighter in the first place, but featuring much better head protection in the same time (especially against hand grenade shrapnels and fragments). In context of bullet protection, it remained approximately equal however, being capable of easily stopping a short (pistol or SMG) cartridge - the ones with a rounded grain bullet (with some exceptions, like the Soviet made 7,62x25mm and 5,45x18mm or Belgian 5,7x28mm as an example, which are easily capable of penetrating the standard kevlar made body armor and combat helmet), but is incapable of stopping any kind of long (rifle) or intermediate (automatic rifle) cartridges, which all feature a sharp grain bullet and a taller case which can take much higher loads and thus, feature greater muzzle velocity and much higher penetrating potential which comes along with it.
As mentioned in the beginning, the M-89 was intended to officially replace the M-59/85 combat helmet in both production and usage in the entire YPA as well as Yugoslavian Militsiya (Narodna Milicija), however the breakup of the country and dissolvement of its armed forces together with it as well as soon start of the war prevented all that. However, it was then taken and officially used by Macedonian army as their standard combat helmet (seen extensively used during 2001 Albanian uprising in Macedonia) and is still being used even today. Despite that, it is still a very rare and hard to obtain or acquire item on the market, due to which it is much more valued that its relatively cheap predecessor, the M-59/85 helmet.
It would be interesting to see future appearance and style of YPA if the SFRY lived to see 1990s, since they had planned a truly radical modernization of their uniforms, equipment and even weaponry. For example, they would surely have completely replace the long outdated and obsolete M-77 wool, non camouflage uniforms with the new, M-87/89 camouflage pattern and cotton ones, M-59/85 steel helmets with these M-89 kevlar ones and would even switch from Soviet made 7,62x39mm M-43 (Yugoslavian version was designated as M-67) cartridge in order to adopt Western and the standard NATO 5,56x45mm (since they could not obtain license to produce and adopt the new Soviet made 5,45x39mm M-74 cartridge due to not being a Warsaw pact member) for their newly planned infantry arsenal; the CZ M-90 (Crvena Zastava Model 1990) automatic rifle, CZ M-82 light machine gun and CZ M-85 automatic carbine, which were intended to replace the usual CZ M-70 and M-72 (and thus, the then future M-92). Looking upon these facts, it can be thus freely concluded that the modernisation of uniforms, equipment and weaponry the YPA scheduled for 1990s would be approximately the same and practically freely comparable to the one that German Wehrmacht planned for second half of 1940s (by planning to introduce StG-45 assault rifle, Leibertarn five-tone, anti infra-red camouflage pattern, new Stahlhelm M45 combat helmet and so on), if the World War II did not end in spring of 1945.