After almost eight years of delay, the Indian Army has received the first lot of 20,000 bulletproof jackets for its troops posted in counter-insurgency and anti-militancy operations.
The first batch of bullet proof jackets has already been distributed and has reached the soldiers.
In March, 2016, the Army had placed an “emergency” procurement contract worth Rs 140 crore to get 50,000 such vests.
Despite numerous efforts in the past decade, the Army faces a shortage of bulletproof jackets — a mandatory requirement to saves lives in counter-insurgency operations.
There is huge shortage of bullet-proof jackets in the 1.18-million strong Army and because of convoluted procurement procedures, a lot of delay happen in getting these vital security items.
After assuming office, Defence Manohar Parrikar had approved this “interim emergency acquisition” through the “revenue route.”
In total the Army needs 353,765 new jackets. Of these, 1.86 lakh were to be supplied in the 11th plan (2007-2012) and another 1.67 lakh jackets were to be supplied during the 12th plan (2012-2017).
The Army has been looking for modern light weight modular bulletproof jackets that allow greater agility to troops while protecting the head, neck, chest, groin and sides of the infantry soldiers. The Army’s existing bulky bulletproof vests are near the end of their operational life.
The tender for purchase of 1.86 lakh modular jackets was scrapped in October 2015 as samples offered by six vendors failed to clear field trials as per the Army specified benchmarks.
The initial idea was to acquire 1.86 lakh jackets by 2012 and remaining 1.67 lakh by 2017.