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The Indian Air Force (IAF) is enhancing the safety of its helicopter crews engaged in counter-terrorism and internal security operations. New, lighter-weight bulletproof jackets are being developed to address the limitations of existing equipment.

The current IAF-issued bulletproof jackets, weighing a hefty 6.5 kg, are described as bulky and uncomfortable for aircrew to wear while flying. This restricts mobility and potentially hinders performance during critical missions. Additionally, personnel must wear a separate tactical vest over the jacket to carry ammunition and survival gear, further increasing overall weight and bulk.

The IAF’s solution is to collaborate with industry partners to design a new generation of jackets that are significantly lighter. Their target weight is 4 kg for flight operations, increasing to 8 kg for ground combat situations where additional protection might be necessary.

Despite the weight reduction, these new jackets prioritize crew safety. They are designed to offer Level 3+ ballistic protection, safeguarding against various 7.62 mm rifle rounds, including those fired from the widely used AK-47, even at close quarters (25 meters). This level of protection is achieved by combining hard armor plates (HAP) with soft armor panels (SAP) for a comprehensive defense system.

The IAF plans to equip each member deployed in counter-terrorism and internal security operations with one of these new bulletproof jackets. This investment in crew protection reflects the IAF’s commitment to safeguarding its personnel and ensuring mission effectiveness in challenging environments.