According to media reports, an Indian company, the Kanpur-based MKU Industries, has been contracted to manufacture 1.58 lakh helmets in a deal worth around Rs 170-180 crore, and the production of the new helmets is now beginning.
This is the first large scale order of helmets by the Indian Army in more than two decades and the company will deliver the new helmets within three years.
MKU Industries is a world leader in the manufacture of body armour (bulletproof jackets and helmets) which it exports to armed forces around the world.
According to reports, the new helmets can bear the impact of 9 mm ammunition fired from a short range and are also designed to be comfortable. Moreover, many of them can be integrated with communication devices.
More than 10 years ago, the Indian Army’s elite para special forces were equipped with an Israeli OR-201 helmet made of Glass Reinforced Plastic. However, regular soldiers had to make do with heavy domestically-made helmets, known as PATKA, which were not comfortable to wear during combat situations and weigh more than 2.5 kilograms.
The report by the Army had recently highlighted challenges faced by personnel, predates the allegations made by the BSF jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav, whose video created national outrage over poor quality of food being served to personnel.
The 119-page report published on ‘Future Core Technologies and Problem Statements’ sheds light on the problems faced by the soldiers – from vulnerability of their body Armour, obsolete night fighting gear, problems with winter clothing to lack of situational awareness systems which keep them updated during operations.
In his maiden press conference on Friday, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat touched upon the report promising that front line soldiers would be equipped with world-class gear and the force was collaborating with the country’s top academia and industry to fix the problems.