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The Indian Army is now actively scouting around for lightweight and sturdier helmets for its soldiers.
The defence minister George Fernandes has directed the Army to explore the options for getting the ‘‘best possible headgear’’ along the lines of the ones worn by the American soldiers during the recent Afghanistan and Iraq operations.
‘‘The minister is keen on lightweight helmets, which have enhanced bullet-proof protection and internal communication facilities. The Army is now framing the qualitative requirements for the helmets. Countries like the US and Israel could be the prospective suppliers,’’ said an Army source.
A young captain admitted, ‘‘Better helmets will definitely boost the morale of the soldiers. Things have slightly improved in recent years with fibre-glass and other helmets.’’
American soldiers have already progressed to ‘‘advanced combat and modular integrated communication helmets”, made of high-tenacity composite and polyethylene materials, which are said to have saved scores of lives. Indian soldiers, however, are still saddled with heavy metal helmets of World War II-vintage that only protect the top of the heads but not the sides.
Soldiers deployed in counter-insurgency operations prefer to use the lighter bullet-proof patkas. ‘‘But they too weigh around 2.5 kg and protect only the forehead and the back of the head,’’ said an officer.
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