In an effort to provide better protective gear to infantry soldiers in operational theatres as well as during training, the Army has floated a Request For Information (RFI) for the introduction of elbow and knee pads. As per the RFI put out by the Army, the Ministry of Defence has recently cleared the procurement of elbow and knee pads the introduction of which is aimed at “optimising the soldier’s performance across full spectrum and duration of military operation”. With the infantry soldiers requiring a high degree of physical involvement in operational conditions, the Army wants that the elbow and knee pads should be very durable and endure the harsh desert and rocky surroundings, jungle terrain, high altitude areas and areas with rock and mud.
The introduction of this protective gear is in accordance with the programme launched to modernise the equipment of the infantry soldier by equipping him with the state-of-the-art personal protection systems and weaponry. Known as the Futuristic Infantry Soldier As a System (F-INSAS), the programme was launched a decade back.
F-INSAS envisages multi-calibre and multi-mode equipment for the infantry soldiers along with protective gear, information, communication and navigation equipment and health monitoring tools. A high degree of importance has been given to the protective gear being worn by the soldier. This includes weather adjustable vests, knee and elbow pads, light shrapnel proof jackets, night vision device and wrist mounted PDAs.
Brigadier Ashwini Sharma (retired), a former Infantry Brigade Commander who also commanded a Rashtriya Rifles battalion in J&K and served in Sri Lanka, said this was a belated move. “Even in the late 80s in Sri Lanka during Operation Pawan, we used to make our own knee pads using padding and fasteners from regimental funds,” he said.