New Delhi: In one of the world's largest procurement of specialised ballistic helmets, the Army has kickstarted the process to acquire 1,00,000 AK-47-protected helmets. Last month, the Infantry Directorate of the Indian Army initiated the process by issuing a Request for Information (RFI) on Indian and global helmet manufacturers. The directorate has already held a preliminary meeting with a few of helmet manufacturers in the national capital, media reports said. The Request for Proposals (RFPs) is likely to be issued by early next year.
The actual budget allocated for these helmets is yet to be announced. Once procured, these new ballistic helmets will substitute the 'bulletproof patka,' which are in services since the beginning of the 1990s, and the helmets acquired by the Army in 2018.
The need to acquire new ballistic helmets has risen due to multiple reasons. The helmets which Army acquired in 2018 from MKU, a Kanpur-based company, turned out to be inadequate in protecting against AK-47 bullets used by terrorists. Further, every AK-47 bullet travels twice the speed of sound and creates a huge 2,000 joules of kinetic energy, which is enough to inflict fatal trauma even on victims wearing body armour and helmets. The advancement in ballistic technologies have managed to create helmets that can exponentially reduce the impact of AK-47 round to less than 10 joules.
The Army also plans to mount accessories like night-vision goggles, a torch, visors and face shields on these helmets. One of the most important conditions placed by the Army for the new helmet is that it should provide protection against AK-47's 7.62 x 39 mm Mild Steel Core and Hard Steel Core bullets from a close distance of 10 metres. It is to be noted that a common AK-47 round is made up of Mild Steel Core and in order to penetrate the metal and body armour, terrorists in the past have used hard steel core bullets. For instance, in the recent years, there have been two instances, first in Pulwama in 2017 and then at Lethpora in 2018, where terrorists have used armour-piercing AK-47 bullets.
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