Lighter, stronger, safer: How level 4 bullet-proof jackets will keep Indian soldiers safe at the front
New Delhi, Nov 21: Protection gear for Indian soldiers has taken a huge leap with the Indian Army recently issuing tenders to brace the front line troops and soldiers with next-level bulletproof jackets and modern weapons in Jammu and Kashmir.
Keeping in mind the absolute necessity for enhanced protection in the face of growing threat and aggression from the enemies within and without, Indian Army is now on the way to acquire 62,500 bulletproof jackets (BPJs) under 'Make in India' initiative.
While the 47,627 jackets will be acquired under the normal route, 15,000 jackets will be procured under emergency procedures, which would be finalised in the next three to four months and the entire procurement is likely to be completed in 18-24 months, the Indian Army official told ANI.
With this procurement, the BPJs would be a level 4 jacket which are considered to be effective against steel core bullets and would be first provided to jawans deployed in the Kashmir valley.
Over the years, the bulletproof jackets have been improved with change in bullet-resistant materials.
With each level up, the features of the bullet-proof jackets also increase. Let us look at why and how will these Level 4 jackets be different from the earlier Level 3 jackets.
The specifications so far listed by the Indian Army stated that the BPJs are of special purpose, capable to stop 7.62 mm armour-piercing rifle ammunition as well as steel core bullets fired from a distance of 10 metres. Meanwhile, the Level 3 BPJs is capable to stop AK-47 fired from 15 metres and a 7.62 SLR bullet or a 7.62 mm Dragunov sniper bullet at 50 metres. And these jackets are issued only to the army and paramilitary forces engaged in counter-insurgency and not city police forces. The closer the weapon, the chances were less that the panel will protect the jawans.
The modular design of the new jackets should weigh less than 10 kg, while the weight of those meant for use against steel core rounds should not exceed 8 kg. Therefore, freeing jawans of unwanted load and providing protection in areas. Currently, the bullet proof jackets used in India weighs around 12 kg and are made of jackal Armour steel, alumina and silica.
Outer Tactical Vest
A level 4 BPJ's outer Tactical Vest (OTV) will comprise of a carrier system for Bullet proof panels (SAP and HAP) for front, back, sides, throat and groin area, Quick Release System and provision for attaching Dynamic Weight Distribution System to OTV. It should have the capacity to carry three magazines of the newly inducted SIG 716 rifle and the proposed AK-203 assault rifle along with other items like hand grenades, hand-held radio sets, tools, or attach additional pouches. The jacket's outer tactical vest should have the capacity to carry three magazines of the newly inducted SIG 716 rifle and the proposed AK-203 assault rifle along with other items like hand grenades, hand-held radio sets, tools, or attach additional pouches. The level 3 jacket has the size of a computer monitor, which is manufactured by the Tata Advance Materials.
The level 4 BPJs should be able to operate between minus 20º C to +45º C. The level 3 jacket shall be such that there is 'no ride' up while sitting. The level 3 vest is meant to be worn in conjuction with a soft panel that protects the body at 30º C to +50º C.
The level 4 jacket should be worn as a Jacket and must cover upper torso to protect throat, chest, sides, groin and back of a soldier similar to that of level 3 jacket. The level 4 BPJ will provide comfort for prolonged operations and 360° protection around the upper torso. It should be convenient and comfortable to wear. Bullet Proof Jacket along with the accessories must not impede the movement and functioning of the soldier while carrying out operational duties. The level 3 Jacket with 360 degree full protection shielding front, back and sides provides maximum freedom of movement of the wearer.
The fabric of the bulletproof vest must be water resistant and be flame resistant. The fabric shall be of Indian Army Camouflage Pattern with resistance to fading when exposed to sunlight and washing. The shoulder should have non-slippery rifle stock retention surface. The fabric of level 3 jacket is made of a synthetic material and is also water and flame-resistant.
Some Indian firms are also producing bulletproof jackets for the soldiers. Last month, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) claimed to have developed a lightweight Bullet Proof Jacket (BPJ) weighing 9 kg to meet the qualitative requirements of the Indian Army.