Saturday, May 13, 2023

IAF to develop Kevlar safety screens for gunners on Dhruv helicopters

Chandigarh: Even as safety concerns continue to dog the Dhruv helicopter fleet, the Air Force has initiated a project to develop Kevlar safety screens to protect on board machine gunners during operations.

The project is being undertaken by IAF’s No.3 Base Repair Depot at Chandigarh, which is primarily responsible for the maintenance and overhaul of Russian-origin helicopters.

When required, machineguns are mounted in the doorframe of transport helicopters to provide fire support during special heli-borne operations such as airborne assault, troop insertion or search and rescue missions in hostile territory. Such situations make the gunner prone to enemy ground fire.

The Kevlar screens, categorised as a critical component, are required to be effective in various operational environments and at temperatures ranging from minus 40 degrees Celsius to 50 degree Celsius.

Kevlar is a lightweight and strong fibre that has vast industrial applications, including use in bullet- resistant equipment such as personal armour and ballistic shields. Its high tensile strength-to-weight ratio makes it five times stronger than steel.

The IAF has proposed that special safety screens be designed for Dhruv’s Mark-III version, which is the latest in the indigenously developed helicopter’s series after the Mark-I and Mark-II versions.

The Mark-III version had four military variants for the Army, Air Force, Navy and the Coast Guard, with different specifications to meet the specific requirements of each service. About 340 Dhruvs, including civilian versions, have been produced by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

13/05/2023 Vijay Mohan/Tribune

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