For a soldier today, a bullet-proof helmet is an essential part of his kit that can prove to be the difference between life and death during combat operations.
But Indian Army soldiers, who fight in adverse conditions to save lives of fellow countrymen, were deprived of even this basic need.
Indian armed forces have relied on patkas that are worn over outdated infantry helmets to save themselves from enemy fire. But they have severe limitations as they are bulky and heavy, weighing over 2.5 kgs, and can protect only the forehead and back of the head.
Now, there is a good news for our soldiers. After decades of life-threatening wait, Indian Army has finally received modern bullet-proof helmets this month which can bear the impact even from short range.
Earlier this year, a Kanpur-based company, MKU limited, which supplies military equipment to the UN and NATO, was awarded a contract worth Rs 180 crore to supply nearly 1.6 lakh helmets. The company has recently delivered the first tranche.
ET got an opportunity to visit the manufacturing facilities of MKU in Kanpur and Fatehpur districts of Uttar Pradesh to watch the production of helmets.
The bullet-proof helmet has the main protective layer of Kevlar, the material used by Batman for his Batsuit and cape. Although the helmet won’t let our army men do things batman does, it will surely save them by bearing the impact of an enemy bullet.
The helmets are designed to bear the impact of 9 mm ammunition fired from a short range. This meets the global standard for protection among leading armed forces. They are also designed to be comfortable and can be integrated with communication and night-vision devices.
Indian Army has ordered the bolted version of bolt-free ballistic helmets. Not currently on the Indian Army order list, bolt-free is a higher and expensive version of bullet-proof helmets, which gives all-round protection from head injuries as helmet bolts increase the risk of injuries due to vibrations produced by direct impact of bullet on helmet.
MKU claims that these helmets go through rigorous quality tests and ballistic lab test conducted in company’s testing facilities in India and Germany.
Although the ordered helmets don’t carry the communication device and other equipment such as night-vision device and camera, the company says the helmets could be improvised to include all these devices in future. MKU also manufactures integrated mounting system consisting communication and night-vision devices, camera and torch that make the helmet a unique protective-cum-communication machine.
Riding high on the success of its biggest helmet order of nearly Rs 180 crore from Indian Army, the Kanpur-based company is also hopeful of grabbing orders for currently under-process 44,000 night-vision devices and bullet-proof jackets.
Talking to ET, MKU Managing Director Neeraj Gupta said, “Head is the most venerable part of the body to get injured in a combat operation. According to studies, 26 per cent to 28 per cent of soldiers die because of head injuries.”
“In addition to the current 1.6 lakh order, we hope to deliver over 7 lakh helmets to Indian Army and overall one million helmets to different Indian armed forces,” Gupta said.
MKU manufactures a wide range of military products including bullet-proof helmets, body armours, bullet-proof jackets and night-vision devices. The 30-year old company calls itself one of the biggest arms exporters in India. It claims to supply military equipment to more than 100 countries. It has a manufacturing and testing facility in Germany, in addition to three units in Kanpur and Fatehpur districts of Uttar Pradesh.
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