As of now the jackets and helmets provided to the Indian forces are based on the NIJ III+ Standard, which refers to ballistic resistance of a body armour

After a long time India will have its own Standard for Bullet Proof Jackets (BPJ): IS17051:2018, which has now been finalised.

This final standard is expected to be formally released next week on Jan 10 in New Delhi. The standard prescribes minimum requirements of bulletproof jackets against small arms & their evaluation procedures.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, an industry executive confirmed to Financial Express Online that, “India does not have any specific standards for the BPJs. So far the orders that have been placed for the jackets for the armed and the paramilitary forces are based on the specifications laid out by the customer.”

As of now the jackets and helmets provided to the Indian forces are based on the NIJ III+ Standard, which refers to ballistic resistance of a body armour.

As has been reported by The FE Online earlier, Defence Materials and Stores Research and Development Establishment (DMSRDE), a Kanpur-based premier laboratory of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) had in 2017 handed over a technology for bullet-proof jackets to Kanpur-based Company MKU Ltd. This technology is one of the most significant matured personal protection systems developed by DRDO among the various GSQRs of Indian Army meeting NIJ III+ Standard (The system of using Roman numerals (II, IIIA, III, and IV) is used to indicate the level of threat), which refers to ballistic resistance of body armour.

The NIJ standard provides the performance level for most ballistic-resistant jackets. However, till date there are no 100% bulletproof jackets available in the market today. What is available in terms of body armour does provide certain degree of protection against various kinds of handgun ammunition.

In 2017, after cancelling several Requests for Proposals (RfP) since 2011, the Indian Army sent BPJs for trials based on the parameters specified in the RfP issued in April 2016.

As reported by The Financial Express Online, the former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in a statement in Parliament had said, “The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) had accorded acceptance of necessity (AoN) in October 2009 for procurement of 3,53,765 bullet-proof jackets, including quantity 1,86,138, to be procured in the 11th Army Plan. The request for proposal (RFP) was issued to 36 vendors on 3.3.2011, but had to be retracted on 8.12.2011 to address issues in respect of conduct of trials.”

Industry sources confirmed that most of the times due to lack of Indian standards, there were always issues raised at trials. Now, “With the proper standards expected to be released, it will be easier for companies to send samples for trials.” It must be noted that the body armour standards are regional as globally the ammunition used varies therefore the armour testing must be based on the threats found locally.

The RfP for the light-weight modular jackets was issued again in December 2012. However, it was retracted on October 5, 2015 as none met the technical parameters or GSQRs (general staff qualitative requirements) laid down by the army.

The modern light-weight jackets, based on the Indian Army’s new technical specifications, are meant to adequately protect the head, neck, chest, groin and sides of soldiers. These are also expected to provide greater agility to soldiers during counter-insurgency operations in difficult, “unfriendly” terrain.

The Kanpur based MKU, one of the contenders for the jackets, was contracted to manufacture ballistic helmets-with 13 mm trauma protection pads. The new 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 many of them can be integrated with communications devices.