In yet another collaboration with the private industry, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on Tuesday handed over the technology for the development of extreme cold winter clothing system (ECWCS) to five Indian companies.
The firms are Delhi-based M/s RHD Business Services India Pvt. Ltd and M/s SBNX Innovation (OPC) Pvt. Ltd, Coimbatore-based M/s Shiva Texyarn Limited, M/s Kusumgar Corporates Pvt. Ltd from Mumbai and M/s Ginni Filaments Limited in Mathura.
The technology was developed by the Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences (DIPAS) of DRDO and is particularly critical at a time when India is locked in a military standoff with China at the Line of Actual Control—and soldiers continue to be deployed in the forward areas of eastern Ladakh through the peak winters when the temperatures dip to about minus 30 degrees Celsius.
Earlier this year, the Army had projected an annual requirement of 50,000 to 90,000 sets of extreme cold weather clothing systems and similar quantities of special sleeping bags, rucksacks, multipurpose boots as well as snow goggles and summer suits for super high altitude areas among others.
These extreme cold weather clothing systems were among the 17 types of special clothing and mountaineering equipment that the Army had sought to procure from Indian vendors.
So far, most of them are imported from other countries, but as per the second positive indigenisation list of 108 items notified by the Defence ministry earlier this year, special clothing and mountaineering equipment will have to be procured only from indigenous sources from January 2023.
Defence officials told News18.com that the DRDO’s technology transfer to the private firms will go a long way in meeting this requirement for the Indian soldiers deployed in Siachen, eastern Ladakh and other high-altitude areas, in line with the Centre’s Make in India initiative.
What is the technology all about and how will it help soldiers?
DRDO officials told News18.com that the extreme cold weather clothing systems are ergonomically designed, modular in nature and comprise three layers, weighing less than 4.5 kg, even for the largest sizes.
The inner layer comprises a vest and a pair of trousers and provides insulation and wicks away sweat from the body, while the middle layer, comprising a jacket and trousers, provides maximum insulation and is resistant to water penetration on the outer surface.
The outer part is a camouflage printed insulated waterproof layer providing protection from wind chill and snow and is reversible.
The insulation was distributed in three layers of clothing for temperatures up to minus 50 degrees Celsius.
The officials said the ergonomic design of the clothing system will facilitate non-obstructive natural joint movements on wearing the winter clothing systems and will ensure minimum restriction to the range of motion of different body joints, thus maintaining flexibility and manoeuvrability of the user. It is designed in a way to provide protection to the face during extreme cold and blizzards.
It will also prevent dehydration and minimise temperature loss through breathing during activities.
The clothing system, officials said, will provide warmth and comfort to soldiers in high-altitude areas up to 30,000 feet and glaciated terrains in temperatures up to minus 50 degrees Celsius and wind velocity up to 60 km/hr, while preventing hypothermia and minimising the risks of frostbite and maintaining normal body temperature.
DRDO’s collaborations with private industry
While officials said that DRDO does not have immediate projects lined up for such collaborations with the industry, the organisation has carried out more than 1400 ToT (transfer of technology) agreements with various industries to date.
An official said this year alone, DRDO has carried out 178 ToT agreements with the private industry.
Some of the technologies that were recently transferred to the private industry include Fire Suppressing Gel, Coastal Surveillance Radar, Automatic Chemical Agent Detection and Alarm (ACADA) & Chemical Agent Monitor (CAM), Unit Maintenance Vehicle, Unit Repair Vehicle, Fused Silica-based Ceramic Core technology.
DRDO gets five per cent of the total development cost as ToT fees from each industry, officials from the organisation told News18.com.