India is looking at the procurement and installation of lightweight fibre-based armour plating in the cargo compartments of seven Mi-17V-5 helicopters under a national competitive bidding process, for which results are awaited.
This requirement released last year by the Indian Air Force (IAF) stated that ballistic protection is needed for helicopters being used by paramilitary forces since they are coming under increasing ground fire from 14.5mm ZPU and 12.7mm DShK heavy machine guns plus shoulder-fired man-portable missile systems of domestic insurgents in remote areas.
These helicopters are also used to carry IAF special forces to secure the helicopter and conduct CSAR operations.
Government-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has been working on an airborne ballistic protection solution for more than seven years based on user requirements, Shephard has learned.
However, according to one engineer, the requirements are very exacting and even unachievable. The MoD expects an armouring solution of 25kg/m² against 12.7mm rounds, which is ‘too light’, he said.
Last year the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) claimed to have achieved an armoured-panel solution for the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) to resist 7.62mm armour-piercing incendiary (API) bullets with a velocity of 636m/s and with an areal density of 28kg/m².
Armoured-panel trials were also conducted against 12.7mm API bullets with a striking velocity of 703m/s at an areal density of 43kg/m².
HAL has received an RfP for 15 limited-production LCHs from the IAF and Indian Army last December and these and subsequent LCHs will need to be armoured.
Meanwhile, Indian company MKU Defence said its advanced-materials Polyshield V6 armouring technology helps save ‘effective payload’ by approximately 40% in armoured helicopters. It has an areal density of only 14.5kg/m² and offers rifle protection as per NIJ Standard-0108.01 Level II.
The company has also armoured more than 300 Indian and 80 Sri Lankan boats against small-arms fire.