Wednesday, July 01, 2020

The Army Is Looking To Jazz It Up - Could Throw A New Helmet Into The Mix

Indian Army - Ballistic Helmet - MKU Mukut - 01
The Indian Army [IA], in 2017, finalised what was a much-delayed acquisition of modern Infantry Helmets. It contracted the Kanpur-based MKU Ltd. for supplying it's Mukut Ballistic Helmet, news of which gained fair traction in the media. It placed an order of 158,000 with MKU. 3 years hence, the Army is prowling the markets again, for Helmets.
RFI - Indian Army - Ballistic Helmet - 100000 - 01
A recent RFI it put up states its intent to buy 100,000 Headgears, that troops can wear pan-India - from -40o C to 50o C, Siachen to Sikar. The ergonomically designed, light-weight Solution must offer protection against 7.62 mm rounds, fired from 10 m range. Protection from 9 mm Rounds, though not specified, have been enquired about in the Questionnaire. The quantum of purchase implies that these are for the bulk Infantry soldiers.

The specifications & requirements are Boilerplate, including ability to mount Communication gears [Commander's version] & NVG, possibly a Picatinny Rail, that would impart mount flexibility. A similar MKU offering is called the 'Multiple Accessory Connector System'. The enquiry document, though, seeks information of features, that would place such a helmet in the realms of the fantastical. One can read the RFI, available on the Army's websites [archive].
Orlite OR-201 Helmet - Indian Army - 001
The Indian Army's stock of Helmet is quite diverse. Besides the Mukut, in 2010, it imported a number of Israeli Orlite OR-201 Helmets, for personnel of it's Para Units [above]. Recent pictures show that they have transitioned to US Mil Std. ACH variants, such as this one below, designed by the Tata Advanced Materials Ltd [TAML] & Galvion-built Viper P2 [below].
TAML ACH Helmet - Indian Army - 001
Viper P2 Ballistic Advanced Combat Helmet ACH - Indian Army - 01
Galvion Viper P2
In the US, the ECH Std. has superseded the ACH. When Mil-grade unavailable, IA uses Road-grade.
Indian Army - Bike Helmet - 01
This Buy wouldn't relate to the current events unfolding on the Border. For that, the IA has already commenced emergency purchases to stock-up it's inventory. The Timeline is unhurried - RFP to be issued in 2021 & eventual winner has up to 3 years to fulfil orders. With a vendor already contracted, the need to look elsewhere raises a few possibilities. One could be to discourage monopoly, cultivate alternative Vendors, to promote competition. Would give the Forces options. The other, the Organisation isn't very happy with it's choice, and is now looking to make amends. Also, with the initial order being of 158,000 Helmets, the Contract can't simply be renewed.
Either way, it has opened the doors for other solution providers to throw their hat in the ring.
The MKU has filed a Patent application for a 'Non-Metallic Dynamic Weight Distribution System'. An interesting solution. Though such a system have been around for a while, it's offering incorporates some creative improvements.
Non-Metallic Dynamic Weight Distribution System - MKU - 001
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