Indian companies which were earlier procuring raw materials for bulletproof jackets from the US and Europe have now started looking at China to keep the costs down.
With the future tendering for Bullet Proof Jackets to be based on Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) norms, a leading defence company MKU Limited which is currently executing an order for 1.58 lakh Bullet Proof Helmets (BPH) for both the Indian Army and Navy and has invested in R&D for making lighter bullet proof jackets for the Indian Armed Forces.
In an exclusive interaction with the Financial Express Online, Neeraj Gupta, Managing Director, MKU Limited says “The Company has been investing a lot in R&D and product upgrades. Recently we have developed Integrated Load Distribution System (ILDS) for BPJs which make it easier for soldiers to carry more loads without discomfort.”
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“We are already working on the norms set down by BIS and also a lot of work is going on in the company on ergonomics to make Protection equipment more comfortable and lighter,” Gupta adds. According to him, the company has already supplied 1.25 lakh helmets for the forces in India and will be completing the total quantity well ahead of schedule.”
Last week, VK Saraswat, member, Niti Aayog, global companies are looking for joint ventures with local Indian companies for manufacturing lightweight body armours (BPJS) and announced that Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had asked the body to prepare a road map for “incentivising” these local companies for manufacturing lightweight body armours.
According to Saraswat, some Indian companies which are producing bulletproof jackets import Chinese raw materials due to price advantage. Government projections indicate there is a requirement for more than three lakh bulletproof jackets for the armed forces and orders have been with the Indian private sector.
Indian companies which were earlier procuring raw materials for bulletproof jackets from the US and Europe have now started looking at China to keep the costs down. The earlier BPJs used by the forces were very heavy and after a lot of research, efforts are on to make the jackets much lighter.
An Indian company SMPP changed its suppliers after winning the bid in April last year and was sourcing raw material from Chinese companies for the 180,000-jacket order from the Indian Army. Industry sources confirmed that almost 40 per cent of the raw material used for the BPJs had come from China and had boron carbide powder.
Responding to a question if the company is sourcing raw material from outside India, the company’s managing director pointed out that “We had technically qualified for the BPJs tender but lost out on price since we did not compromise on raw materials,” says Gupta.
Some global companies have reached out to MKU Ltd for sharing technology and have expressed interest for making the BPJs in India, says Gupta.
MKU Ltd is one of the leading manufacturers of personal armour, platform armour solutions and electro-optic devices, for military, paramilitary, homeland security and special-forces with a customer base spread over 230 forces in over 100 countries.
Gupta says “The aim is to increase capability and reduce the risks for brave men and women who stand in the line of duty to ensure our freedom. We are part of the GKG Group from India, which has its presence in core areas as Defence, Aerospace, Road Safety and Road Construction Technologies.
Adding that the operations of the group are based in India and Germany and “we deliver last mile support to our customers globally through a strong network of over 50 channel partners. We have provided protection to over two million soldiers and 2000+ platforms till date with our personal and platform armour solutions.”
The Company has four manufacturing facilities in India and Germany which are ISO 9001-2008, AS-9100 Rev ‘C’ and BA9000 certified. We have in-house knowledge centres and labs for design, development & testing of ‘Armour Solutions’.
To a question about testing and certification of the products, he said that the products are tested and certified by the leading labs and institutions in the world.
According to him, with three decades of experience behind them, the company has developed formidable experience and expertise in dealing with the defence establishments in India and across the world. The company which in the recent past has been awarded the contract to supply 158,000 helmets with communication headsets to Indian Army is already in collaboration with SAAB, Sweden for Future Soldier & Soldier Modernisation programs, he shares.