Army to get modern bullet-proof jackets

Last Updated : 15 January 2011, 19:28 IST

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Unlike the conventional bullet-proof jackets, these vests can be taken off part by part depending on the task. If a soldier is standing against a wall or sand-bags, he do not require bullet-proofing on his back. In such a case, he can remove the back of the vest and keep it aside.

But when he is going inside a terrorist’s den, the soldier not only needs bullet-proofing from all sides but also a helmet with an earphone so that both his both hands are free for the operation. The modular bullet-proof vest would provide just that.

The Army faced sharp criticism from a parliamentary panel for being short of vital bullet-proof jackets. Besides the shortage, the existing jackets are too heavy.
While the Army is authorised to have 3,53,765 jackets in its stock, the shortfall was as much as 1,86,138, according to a 2009 report of parliamentary standing committee on defence. These vests weigh 10.5-11.5 kg, which adversely impact the agility of soldiers, as they need to carry guns and other equipment.

Following the panel’s instructions, the Army reworked the General Staff Qualitative Requirements(GSQRs) for six months and zeroed in on expensive modular jackets. It has identified potential foreign suppliers.

“We will now undertake trials at Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory, Chandigarh, which should be over in a couple of months. Supply can happen next year,” a senior Army officer told Deccan Herald.

Crucial change
Not only bullet-proof jackets, the Army will also acquire new artillery guns, night vision, air defence systems and helicopters within a couple of years, as the government has silently made a crucial change in the Army’s capital budget. The budgetary change ensures more money will be available with the force for long-term acquisition.

On Friday, Army chief Gen V K Singh said at least one artillery gun should be inducted in 2011, as the artillery is waiting for a long time. No guns were inducted in the artillery since the Bofors guns of 1980s, which came out in flying colours in Kargil conflict.
Till now, close to 70 per cent of the Army’s capital budget was under the budgetary head of “new projects” while the rest was available for “contractual liability”.

But big-ticket military deals being a long-drawn affair, Army had little resources available for meeting the contractual obligations for a period of time. The budgetary need was to spend most of the money within a year, which was not possible with large military deals.
The scenario was completely reverse in the IAF and Navy because of which they were able to go ahead with many major deals.

Concerned with the lumbering pace in the modernisation of the Army vis-a-vis China, the Centre and the Planning Commission decided to follow the same practice for the Army as in the IAF and Navy from the 2011-2012 fiscal to allow the Army to go ahead with big-ticket purchases.

Published 15 January 2011, 19:28 IST

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