BARC’s “Bhabha Kavach” to protect paramilitary forces from AK-47 bullets - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

Home Top Ad


Sunday 21 July 2019

BARC’s “Bhabha Kavach” to protect paramilitary forces from AK-47 bullets

Bhabha Kavach (displayed above at the International Police Expo 2019 in Delhi) clears testing in Ahmedabad, OFB ready to build 10,000 per year for CAPFs

Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 22nd Jul 19

When the central armed police forces (CAPFs) under the Ministry of Home Affairs demanded bulletproof jackets (BPJs) that offer greater protection than those used by the army, the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) turned to the agency that makes the country’s nuclear warheads – Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), near Mumbai.

The OFB also brought in defence public sector undertaking Mishra Dhatu Nigam (MIDHANI). The BPJ they developed together – named “Bhabha Kavach” in recognition of BARC’s contribution – has recently cleared firing trials in Gujarat Forensic Science University, Ahmedabad (GFSU). 

The challenge was to develop a BPJ that weighed under 9.5 kilogrammes, but which could stop steel-jacketed, 7.62 millimetre NATO-standard bullets. This was intended to protect CAPF personnel from 7.62 millimetre bullets fired from AK-47 rifles – the chosen weapon of militants from Kashmir to Bastar.

OFB officials say the Ahmedabad trials have validated that the Bhabha Kavach meets US National Institute of Justice Level III (NIJ Level III) standards, which guarantees protection against 7.62 millimetre NATO-standard bullets.

Most army BPJs meet the lesser NIJ Level II standard, which protects soldiers from 9 millimetre bullets fired from a carbine or handgun. That is because the army places a premium on mobility as well as protection and does not want a heavy jacket. 

CAPFs like the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Border Security Force (BSF), Indo-Tibet Border Police (ITBP) and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), which secure the towns and cities of Kashmir, are more exposed on the streets to AK-47 bullets, fired unexpectedly from any direction. In 2016-17, in consultation with the CAPFs, the Bureau of Police Research & Development laid down specifications for a heavier jacket with NIJ Level III protection, said VK Chaudhary, additional general manager, OFB.

The OFB claims the weight specifications have been more than met. “The Bhabha Kavach weighs 9.2 kilogrammes, 300 grammes lighter than the requirements,” said Chaudhary.

OFB officials explain that Bhabha Kavach is built from layers of “high-density, high-tenacity poly-ethelene, which are thermo-sealed” by MIDHANI. This means the layers are fused together at high temperature. This forms a thick, “hard armour plate” (HAP), which is then sprayed with BARC’s carbon nanomaterial. Soaking into the layers of the plate, the nanomaterial instils the toughness and tenacity needed to slow down and trap a bullet as it passes through the plate. 

Bulletproof jacket armour is of two types. Soft armour provides lesser protection,  suitable for threats from handgun and small arms bullets and is worn by bodyguards and VIPs against personal threats. “Hard armour” is stronger and heavier and is designed to stop heavier, high calibre rounds. NIJ Level IV jackets even provide protection against armour-piercing rounds.

Each Bharat Kavach has four hard armour plates, which protect the wearer from the front, back and either side. BARC has transferred the carbon nanomaterial technology to the OFB.

Chaudhary says the CAPFs have projected a combined initial requirement of 100,000 jackets. Once it receives a supply order, OFB says it will deliver 10,000 jackets per month. This can be ramped up, based on order volumes.

The OFB is also exploring export markets for the Bhabha Kavach, including Nepal, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia, say officials.


  1. I once attended the DSEI defence exhibition in London and came across a small Indian family business making these aluminium strong foam lined boxes, the type photographers use to protect high end cameras. But these were huge, when I asked the owners what these were for, they said that they were made to order, as protective cases for fragile war equipment often parachute dropped. They supplied the US military amongst others.
    In nearby stalls were the Pakistani saddle makers, small arms manufacturers and makers of Naval officers gold braided caps.
    All these these small firms were doing a roaring export business and had monopolised the market.
    Small private Firms in India should be encouraged to to participate in a host of low tech international defence export opportunities.
    A wise course will be for BARC in this case to hand over patents and licence free, to a number of very small firms in the private sector to compete and supply these bullet proof vests. This is what usually happens to technology developed by US universities, their inventions are passed on and fuel American capitalism.
    The public sector in India is a failed sector, let the dynamics of capitalism and small private business take over and do a much better job. It is right that companies like BARC resourced and funded by the taxpayer should give patronage to small business.
    I will also comment;
    Broadsword inadvertently tells the story of failure of the government rather than an optimistic story of the achievement of BARC.
    Kashmir is the most militarised place on earth, 350,000 security forces and military to keep a small population of docile people down?
    This article on bullet proof vests developed for Kashmir, is part of a depressing story of the failure of the government in Kashmir.
    Jai Hind

  2. The International Police Expo is just a market for draconian Governments and dictatorships to buy weapons, for the use of violence against their own people.
    The US police forces buy protective armour and machine guns to be used against the US electorate and poor people living in cities.
    The Expo is in India : because business sees the Indian government as a great customer for their tools of violence, designed to be used against Indians.
    I bet not many of these weapons are bought by police forces of countries like Germany, Norway and Sweden.
    Two Water Cannon bought by a former mayor of London Boris Johnson were scrapped last month, as no licence was given by the courts to use these against the people. I believe tear gas is banned too.
    Over a million armed para military in India just to keep the people down?
    - but there is hardly any funding and a minuscule number of police trained to solve local crime in our country, to ensure safety, especially for women.
    This is how our government makes sure the people do not raise up against their misrule, we seem to be still under a kind of colonial rule, a police governed by colonial laws officered by an IPS patterned on colonial lines.
    Are we really living in a democracy?


  4. Mr Ajai Shukla
    I saw your interview to Al Jazeera where you after the revocation of article 370. You seemed to make the entire thing an issue about pandering to the Hindu majority which is certainly not the case. But given your journalistic history and your close links to the Congress nothing surprised me. Just wanted to tell you that I am ashamed that someone of your views was ever part of the Indian Army, the army which lost thousands of brave men in Kashmir! You are so fake!


Recent Posts

Page 1 of 10412345...104Next >>Last