Next-generation lightweight bulletproof jackets, developed by Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), will now be available to Central Armed Police Force (CAPF).
The jackets, which are more resilient and lightweight than their previous version, were named after “father of the Indian nuclear programme” Dr Homi J Bhabha and were developed at BARC’s Trombay centre in Mumbai.
As per media reports, the Bhabha Kavach weighs 6.6 kg in comparison to 17 kg jackets being used currently by the forces. The jacket is made using extremely hard boron carbide ceramics that is hot-pressed with carbon nano-tubes and composite polymer. BARC has been using boron carbide in the control rods of its nuclear reactors.
The jacket will cost around Rs 60,000 to Rs 70,000 per unit as against the cost of Rs 1.5 lakh for importing one jacket.
The indigenously built Bhabha Kavach will provide personal protection against bullets of different threat levels. A special process developed in BARC is used to create panels offering Level III and Level III+ protection and these are much lighter than currently available armours.
The state-of-the-art jacket will be able to withstand eight 7.62mm bullets fired from an AK-47 rifle from a distance of 5-10 meters. The jacket also can withstand trauma from Indian Small Arms System (INSAS) and self-loading rifle (SLS).
BARC developed a special process to strengthen high molecular weight polyethylene resulting in high ballistic performance composite sheets (called BARC Nano-Sheets).
Bhabha Kavach made up of BARC Nano-Sheets are lighter in weight with reduced trauma level with respect to the existing jackets.
Bhabha Kavach Level III jackets will provide protection against SLR, AK-47 mild steel core and will weigh less than 5 kg with trauma less than 20 mm.
Bhabha Kavach Level III + Jackets will provide protection against SLR, AK-47 hard steel core) weigh around 6.8 kg with trauma less than 15 mm.
As per Hindustan Times news report, Bhabha Kavach has undergone multiple in-house trials to check for various parameters. If the jackets pass various tests, Bhabha Kavach will be manufactured by Mishra Dhatu Nigam Limited, a defence public sector unit. It is estimated that CAPF and Indian army require about 1 lakh bullet-proof jackets every year over the next ten years.