New Delhi: It is as thin and light as chart-paper which is used by school children for their art and craft work, yet when layered 20 sheets thick it can stop a bullet.The technological marvel is a specialized material produced by US major Honeywell Materials Division.
Honeywell that is better known in India as a supplier of aero-engines has been selling this special material to Indian companies TATA advanced material and the Kanpur-based MKU for the past ten years, for use in bullet proof jackets. Most notably, the Ministry of Home Affairs had, in 2010, ordered 59,000 bullet proof jackets for Indian para-military forces at cost of Rs 100 crore and MKU won that tender.
Ministry of Defence has floated tenders to procure around two lakh (2,00,000) bullet-proof jackets and helmets for the Indian Army and Honeywell’s material will be again used by the competing companies. The two tenders were issued in 2013 under the Army's modernisation programme for its infantry soldiers known as the Future-Infantry Soldier as a System (F-INSAS). Under this it will acquire bullet-proof jackets for its personnel along with ballistic helmets with internal communication gear.
Marcus Vaska, Global Sales Director for Honeywell
Marcus Vaska Global Sales Director for Honeywell Advanced Fibres and Composites that is a part of the Honeywell Advanced Material Division, said: “ We are encouraged and very committed to Indian markets our projects on going and we have participated in the past which we have sold to Indian forces indirectly through our partners like Tata advanced material and MKU”. This material we provide has very high strength and is very light weight, 15 times stronger than steel on equal weight basis.
Vaska excused himself from sharing sales numbers but said “ We have been a part of the MHA tender 59,000 Bullet Proof jackets. That was our material we supplied through MKU. We are working to supply the same to the Indian Ministry of Defence. We are looking at high volumes.”
“We guide our partners to certain level on technology they make the final product as per needs of the customer. We are one of the key suppliers and we are the most technologically advanced material “, Vaska told news portal Bharat Defence Kavach.
The company is also looking at body armour to be worn as a normal wearable jacket. Layers of the special material are used to have normal jacket for VIP’s. A twenty sheet thick layer is enough to stop a 9 mm bullet, he explained while adding that largely the VIP needs protection from handguns. In case of soldiers the need is to protect them from rifle shots like AK 47. For this the number of layers are increased and the Bullet proof jacket is enough for soldiers.
These are the types wanted by the Army'. It wants jackets with hard armour plates for front, rear, sides, upper arms, groin and throat, capable of protecting against 7.62 mm x 39 mm mild steel core ammunition fired from an AK-47 from 10 metres.
The Army has been deployed in counter-insurgency operations for several decades in the North-East and Jammu and Kashmir and has been facing shortage of this protective gear as pointed out by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its reports in the past.
Vaska went on tell the wide spectrum of Honeywell products saying we are into pharma packing, cosmetic chemicals and agro chemicals.