(PTI Photo)
Defence Exppo, Representative image
(PTI Photo) Defence Exppo, Representative image
Nand Kumar

Lucknow: A brown colour bulletproof Modi-jacket is displayed prominently at a Defence Expo 2020 stall set-up by Mohali (Punjab) based manufacturer “Bharij”.

The jacket weighs around two kilogram and priced at Rs45,000. On the sides, a raw jacket showing layers of bulletproof material, is showcased to explain how and why this jacket can sustain bullet and mortar shells.

Several visitors, especially politicians, industrialists and government officials have inquired about the jacket in the last two days. Managing partner of Bharij Harcharan Singh tells FPJ, “We have been supplying bullet proof vests to security forces for years.

But since we started making jackets, the civilian market is opened for us. Lot of inquiries are coming from the various State governments.”

Singh says the demand for the light weight bullet-proof jacket is on rise as more and more politicians and officials seek to protect themselves these days amid rising crimes and threat perception. 

Bharij is not alone. Over a dozen bullet-proof manufacturers are participating in the exhibition where more than 1,000 companies from 40 countries have displayed their products in the Def Expo2020.

Most are Indian and supply mainly to security agencies and police. Demand for soft vests are on rise in India and many countries mainly due to high crime rate and extremism in certain parts, manufactures say. They hope that Expo would offer them great market opportunities not only from within India but outside as well. 

A bulletproof vest or body armour, made of different layers of woven and laminated sheets, is used by the security forces and many times by civilians as a protective cover against bullets and shrapnel from explosions.

The sheets bend bullet, spreading its force over a wider portion of the fibres thus converting the bullet into a dish shape. Metal plates and ballistic plates are often inserted inside the soft vests thereby providing extra protection against rifles and knife stabbing.

Soft bulletproof vests weigh less and provide protection against small-calibre handguns. Hard bulletproof vests are used in combat, high-risk tactical missions, and hostage rescue missions.

MKU, a leading defence manufacturer having production units in Kanpur and Germany, has put up a huge pavilion showcasing their all major products in the realm of personal armouring, platform armouring and night vision and thermal devices. They produce over several types of vests based on over 100 types of threats.

“We have focused a lot in R&D to develop a range of light weight and comfortable vests, men and women both,” says Rajesh Gupta, General manager of MKU.

DSM, a multinational major in the protection gear segment, has come up with a range of soft vests for civilian and military use made up of “green and strongest fibre”- dyneema. "With dyneema, our vests are not only extremely light weight but have small carbon footprint as well," claims the company. 

Soft vest segment has dominated the market size and will continue to grow, say experts.

“While soft bulletproof vests cannot stop very high-velocity bullets, they can stop slower bullets such as .45ACP, 00 Buckshot, .40SandW, and the other types of bullets fired up to 1,500 ft. per second. They are widely used by law enforcement agencies and civilians, which will contribute to this segment's growth until the end of 2025”, says an industry forecast.

Prominent people who have life threats also wish to make their vehicle bullet and blast-proof. “We are customising a lot of SUVs for such customers,” says Mr Singh of Bharij.

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