An improved mine-protected vehicle, three-times sturdier than the ones in use, will be handed over to the home ministry next month.
Engineers at the defence ministry-run ordnance factory board (OFB) are giving final touches to the MPV that has a thicker and stronger armour to withstand high-intensity landmine blasts.
“This model will increase the capacity of an MPV to withstand landmine blasts by three times,” an engineer associated with the ordnance factory's research and design project told HT.
The existing MPVs can withstand an explosion in which 14kg of TNT, or trinitrotoluene — a common bulk explosive — is used. The explosive yield of TNT is considered to be the standard measure of strength of bombs and other explosives.
Nearly, a 100 security personnel are killed every year by landmines planted across Maoist hotspots, particularly Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa.
The new MPV — to be rolled out from OFB research facility in Medak, Andhra — will be handed over to the home ministry for trials next month.
“It’ll also have special imported seats to absorb the shock of the blast and its impact when the vehicle lands on the ground after being thrown up in the air,” the engineer said.
Over the last few years, the mines are getting bigger and heavier, leaving existing MPVs almost ineffective.
It was in this backdrop that K Vijay Kumar, who leads the primary anti-Naxal force -- the Central Reserve Police Force -- had referred to MPVs as “coffin on wheels”.
“We too feel bad… but it is a cat and mouse game. Once we build better MPVs, the landmines get bigger,” a senior OFB official said on condition of anonymity.
Requesting that that finer details of the MPV's armour be kept under wraps, the official said they were working on future models capable of withstanding heaviest mines used anywhere in the country.
Security officials said MPVs with a higher capacity would not only protect lives but also - combined with a stricter regime of monitoring leakages of explosives - raise the cost of triggering landmines.