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New Systems, Weapons, Equipment, Gear

Empowering India's Armed Forces with cutting-edge acquisitions for enhanced Security

September 14, 2023 By Lt. General P.C. Katoch (Retd) Photo(s): By X / SpokespersonMoD, Russian Helicopters, X / SMPPDEFENSE, PLR Systems
The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army


Bridge Laying tank T-72

Media reports of 24, 2023 revealed that the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh gave its nod for the capital acquisition of proposals worth approximately 7,800 crore to enhance the operational capabilities of the Armed Forces. Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) was accorded for procurement and installation of Electronic Warfare (EW) Suite on Mi-17 V5 Helicopters, as per an official release by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). According to MoD, all the procurements will be made from indigenous sources only.

The MoD statement read, “To enhance the efficiency of the Indian Air Force, the DAC has granted AoN for procurement and installation of Electronic Warfare (EW) Suite on Mi-17 V5 Helicopters under Buy (Indian-IDDM) category which will enhance better survivability of Helicopters. The EW Suite will be procured from Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL).”

The DAC also accorded AoN for procurement of Ground-Based Autonomous System for the mechanised infantry and armoured regiments which will enable various operations like unmanned surveillance, logistic delivery of ammunition, fuel & spares and casualty evacuation in the battle field, it added.

Major boost for Indian Air Force with Electronic Warfare suite to elevate Mi-17 V5 helicopter capabilities

The proposals were also accepted for procurement of a 7.62x51mm Light Machine Gun (LMG) and Bridge Laying Tank (BLT). While induction of LMG will enhance fighting capabilities of infantry forces, the induction of BLT will result in faster movement of the Mechanised Forces. The proposal for procurement of ruggedised laptops and tablets for the Indian Army under Project ‘Shakti’ has also been accorded AoN. The MoD statement further read, “To enhance the operational capability of the MH-60R Helicopters of the Indian Navy, the DAC has accorded AoN for procurement of weapons for the same.”

Mi-17 V5 Helicopter

Concurrently, the Indian Army is set to receive advanced bulletproof jackets, helmets and shields for better personnel protection. In recent years, there have been reports of terrorists in J&K using steel core bullets against security forces. This is the fallout of the US abandoning modern weaponry, ammunition and military equipment in Afghanistan by default or design; the latter is more likely given the US propensity to destabilise regions and exploit such situations to advance its national interests.

Media reports of May 4, 2022 had reported that some of the terrorists in the Kashmir Valley used American armour-piercing bullets in encounters with Indian security forces and were successful in breaching the bulletproof jackets of soldiers, and that the bullets are part of the American weaponry leftover in Afghanistan by the US forces. The report said, "The terrorists used armour piercing bullets against security forces and were able to breach the bulletproof jackets worn by some of the troops. The terrorists have also been found using advanced ‘Made in Canada’ night sights which again is the leftover stock of the NATO troops there.” The media report further said that the issue was discussed by the top army brass during the Army Commanders' Conference held in April 2022.

Ground-Based Autonomous System to Revolutionise Infantry and Armoured Regiments

Further, the Srinagar-based Corps Commander had then said. "The terrorists have used these bullets during the encounters and they breached the jackets in a few cases. We were using level 3 jackets till now and from now on, we would soon be getting the level 4 jackets which provide protection against these bullets." According to US media, US forces left $92 billion worth of weapon platforms, weapons and equipment in Afghanistan when routed by the Taliban. In the past also, the American origin M-16 assault rifles along with M-4A carbines have been found with terrorists in J&K. Recent news reports of April 23, 2023 also revealed that the terrorists who ambushed an Army truck in the Poonch District of J&K also used steel core bullets, capable of piercing an armoured shield.

(Left) Bulletproof Jacket (Right) 7.62x51mm LMG Light Machine Gun

In a significant development aimed at enhancing the safety on Indian Army troops deployed along the Line of Control (LoC) and in operational areas, the good news is that the Army has already conducted successful trials for the state-of-the-art protective gear against the use of steel-core bullets by terrorists, and is likely to procure these items by the end of this year.

Under the emergency procurement procedure, the Indian Army has placed orders to procure for 15,000 bulletproof jackets, 15,000 helmets, 12,000 Sikh helmets and over 14,000 shields. These jackets are designed to offer BIS level-6 protection, while the helmets provide level-3 protection, both of which are considered the best in the world. This procurement would mark a significant milestone as it represents the first time that the Indian Army would acquire bulletproof vests providing level-6 protection.

Cutting-edge bulletproof gear will shield Indian Army against steel-core threats giving it Next-level protection

The contract for the above gear has been awarded to the indigenous company SMPP Private Limited which specialises in ammunition, armour ceramics, personnel protection, platform protection, blast protection and green packaging. The company had received the National Award for Indigenisation in 1998 and the Defence Technology Award in 2018. In 2020, it received the Technology & Product Innovation Award from Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. Indian Army personnel will soon be equipped with bulletproof jackets and helmets designed to provide vital protection against deadly steel piercing projectiles. The supply of these advanced protective gear items is expected to commence in the coming months, and in all likelihood would be completed by end 2023.