New Delhi: Anti-landmine vehicles used by security forces in naxal operations are undergoing major changes in their armour content and ergonomics to withstand huge blasts and minimise loss of troop lives.
The vehicles, deployed to carry armed troops in the naxal zones of the country were red flagged for use after ultras started sneaking huge explosives under roads and culverts to blow off these vehicles.
Technical and scientific experts working to ensure better durability of the vehicle have now put in extra armour in the underbelly of these vehicles to sustain a larger impact of explosion.
The new armour being tried is an alloy of different metals with shrapnels as add ons.
The vehicles traditionally can sustain blasts carried out by explosives in the quantity of 30-40 kilograms but naxals have been putting almost 60-80 kilograms at a depth of 20 metres or more to blow off these security vehicles.
The experts are also planning to remove metal and iron parts inside these armoured vehicles like handlebars, steering and seatrests.
"After an explosion, the vehicle is lifted by a few feets into the air. On striking the ground again, the troops inside, hit themselves against the interiors like seat shafts and handle bars thereby resulting into major injuries," a security officer said.
These parts are now being replaced by plastic and modular fibre material devices. Some foreign companies are also putting in their expertise, the officer said.
Security officers believe that with the additional armourisation of the vehicle`s underbelly the resistance of the vehicle would be enhanced but it will still be impossible to counter a blow from explosives in the quantity of 60-80 kilograms.
"The pre-sanitization drills and road opening duties before the movement of security forces are the only option in such circumstances. Troops and paramilitary personnel have been mandatorily asked to move on foot in naxal areas," a senior paramilitary officer said.
Numerous instances of naxals putting huge quantities of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) have been reported from Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orrisa and other states and hence, security forces have asked their operation teams to sanitise the routes extremely well and shun the use of vehicles.
However, these vehicles are a very important resource when it comes to sending immediate troop reinforcements or an advance patrol party.