The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Trombay, has developed a lightweight bulletproof jacket that, according to researchers, is easier to wear and more comfortable than the ones in use. The institute has used a combination of ceramic and polymer to make the armor panel, which can resist bullets made of hard steel core, including AK-47 bullets.
The team has used a combination of Boron Carbide, a widely used ceramic in nuclear reactors, and carbon nano tube polymer composite to make the hard armor panel. This combination makes the jacket light weight and effective.
“While there exist bulletproof jackets that use ceramic as the guard, the combination of ceramic that blunts the bullet and polymer composite, which absorbs the shock, is our addition to the technology. It can take bullets made of hard steel core (such as AK-47 bullets) as well as mild core. As we have tiled the ceramic combination, any bullet that comes through will be broken in the spaces between the tiles. We have applied for a patent,” said BARC’s Kinshuk Dasgupta, who led the five-member research team that developed these jackets.
At present, a bulletproof jacket that weighs over 10 kg, use steel to make the panel. According to the BARC, these jackets fail to protect the jawans from steel core bullets.
“The newly developed Bhabha Kavach, which weighs 6.6 kilos, can take heavy bullets, including AK-47, self-loading rifles and INSAS,” Dasgupta added.
The material research department of BARC initiated their study for the bulletproof jacket technology in 2015, after being requested by the CRPF and the Ministry of Home Affairs.
“While the first set of five jackets made with this combination failed, we got successful results in the following tests. We were ready with our set by 2016, but testing took time. The jacket has passed 30 different tests by third party-licensed labs in India,” Dasgupta said.
The team has developed three different types of jackets using the combination — two standalone jackets for hard steel bullets and another jacket, which can protect against mild steel core bullets. The latter can be used by state armed forces and local police to maintain law and order. The standalone jackets weigh 6.6 kilo and 4 kilo, while the third one is 3.1 kilo.
A committee, including senior Army officials from the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF), is currently testing the jackets. The BARC, meanwhile, has completed a transfer of technology to Mishra Dhatu Nigam, Hyderabad, an armor company, to manufacture the jackets as well as the material used to make the shield. “Once CAPF approves our jackets, they can be widely used by the armed forces. As compared to importing jackets at higher costs, the initial cost of these jackets could be between Rs 60,000 and Rs 70,000. Once they become popular, we further aim to bring down the cost to Rs 35,000-Rs 40,000 per jacket,” Dasgupta added.