Until now, the Indian Army has relied on ECWCSs to defend its troops stationed in Siachen Glacier.
In the freezing heights of the Himalayas, soldiers protecting India’s borders with Pakistan and China may soon have indigenously made protective apparel to keep them warm and battle fit even in sub-zero conditions.
Five local enterprises received indigenously created technology for producing Extreme Cold Weather Clothing Systems, or ECWCSs, from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on Tuesday.
To protect its soldiers posted in Siachen Glacier and other high altitude advance positions along India’s Himalayan frontiers with Pakistan and China, the Indian Army has begun buying ECWCSs and other Special Clothing and Mountaineering Equipment (SCME) products.
Following a military standoff in eastern Ladakh between the Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), India needed to quickly import ECWCSs from the US to protect the large number of soldiers it had deployed along the Line of Actual Control to counter China’s attempt to change the status quo and push the disputed border westward.
The ECWCS, designed by the DRDO for indigenous production, is an ergonomically designed modular technical clothing with improved thermal insulation and physiological comfort based on the insulation required in Himalayan regions under various ambient climatic conditions and at various levels of physical activity.
The ECWCS incorporates physiological concepts such as reduced respiratory heat and water loss, unrestricted range of motion, and rapid sweat absorption, while also providing waterproof, windproof features with adequate breathability and enhanced insulation, as well as the strength features required for high altitude operations.
According to a news statement from the DRDO, the three-layered ECWCS is designed to offer thermal insulation throughout a temperature range of +15 to -50° Celsius with various layer combinations and physical task intensity.
The technology for the indigenously produced ECWCSs was formally handed over by DRDO chairman G Satheesh Reddy to representatives of five Indian firms. He emphasised the importance of building an indigenous manufacturing base for ECWCSs or SCME, not only to meet the Indian Army’s current needs, but also to leverage its export potential.