The Indian Army has slowly been equipping its troops with body armour over the opening years of the twenty first century. A number of different sets of body armour are in service and some of these are worn with camouflage covers that also incorporate pockets to carry magazines and other combat equipment. Today we are looking at one of these covers in the Indian woodland camouflage introduced in 2006:
As far as I can determine, these covers were used with hard armour plates rather than soft armour. There is a large velcroed opening on both the front and rear of the cover to allow the armour to be fitted inside:
Across the front of the cover are four large pockets to house rifle magazines, these will comfortably hold the slightly curved magazines of an AK47 and presumably all other weapons systems in service with the Indian Army. Each pocket is secured with Velcro:
A fifth, smaller, pocket is sewn to one side and I suspect that this is to take a first field dressing:
The Velcro used throughout the vest is somewhat shoddy in manufacture and the little hooks come off in quantity everytime it is pulled apart.
The shoulders of the cover have a pair of adjustable straps and plastic Fastex buckles that allow it to be adjusted for fit:
On the rear is an adjustable strap to help secure the armour, again fastened with a plastic Fastex buckle:
Two large Velcroed flaps then cover the belt and help hold everything secure:
The Indian Army has struggled to procure enough body armour for its forces for many years, thanks to a very slow procurement process, as reported by NDTV in 2018:
Nine years after it first made a request for more than 1.86 lakh bulletproof jackets, the government today signed a major ‘Make in India’ contract which will see the army finally acquire the life-saving kit its soldiers desperately require during operations.
The contract has been won by SMPP Pvt Ltd, a small Delhi-based company which has a Research and Development Centre in the Okhla Industrial Area. The Rs 639 crore order signed today is the biggest order SMPP have ever signed. In a statement, the company, which hopes to complete delivery of all the jackets within three years, has said its body armour meets the most stringent standards of the Indian Army. “These bulletproof jackets have ‘Boron Carbide Ceramic’ which is the lightest material for ballistic protection,” the company said.
The army, which has struggled to acquire body armour for its soldiers because of an oppressively slow procurement system, says the new jackets have modular parts which provide “immense protection and flexibility to soldiers operating in different operational situations ranging from long distance patrolling to high risk room intervention scenarios”. The jackets are designed to sustain the impact of even the latest hard steel core bullets in saving the lives of soldiers in operations.
In 2009, the government accepted an army requirement for 1.86 lakh bulletproof jackets but the order fell through after none of the vendors cleared trials conducted by the army. Only one of the four participants cleared the first round where the jackets had to demonstrate their ability to withstand .30 calibre armour-piercing bullets in a series of tests in different conditions.