Bhabha Kavach BPJ Meets NIJ III Standards
Public sector undertaking Mishra Dhatu Nigam (MIDHANI) and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre have together developed Bhabha Kavach – a bullet proof jacket – at the request of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB). The OFB was asked by the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) under the ministry of home affairs to develop and provide bulletproof jackets that offer greater protection than those used by the Army.
Firing trials of Bhabha Kavach carried out at Gujarat Forensic Science University have validated that the jacket meets US National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Level III standards, which guarantees protection against 7.62 mm NATO-standard bullets. NIJ's next Level IV includes protection against armour-piercing rounds.
The challenge was to develop a jacket that weighed less than 9.5 kg and could stop steel-jacketed, 7.62-mm NATO-standard bullets. This was intended to protect CAPF personnel from 7.62 mm bullets fired from AK-47 rifles – the chosen weapon of militants from Kashmir to Bastar.
CAPFs like the Central Reserve Police Force, Border Security Force, Indo-Tibet Border Police, and Sashastra Seema Bal, which secure the towns and cities of Kashmir, are exposed to AK-47 bullets. 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.
The OFB claims the weight specifications have been met. Bhabha Kavach weighs 9.2 kg, 300 gm lighter than the requirements.
OFB officials say Bhabha Kavach is built from layers of "high-density, high-tenacity polyethelene, which are thermo-sealed" by MIDHANI. This means the layers are fused together at high temperature. This forms a thick, hard armour plate, 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.
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.
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.