MKU is a global defense and homeland security company that empowers armed forces with smart solutions and gives them confidence in challenging situations. Headquartered in Kanpur, India, they also have operations in Germany and the UAE.
The company manufactures body armor and other protective equipment, while also developing solutions for soldier optronics. At Milipol Paris 2021, MKU displayed their latest innovations. BodyArmorNews.com had the opportunity to interview Mr. Neeraj Gupta, Managing Director and CEO of MKU and his team to learn more about the company and their plans for the future.
“The company was started by my father and my brother in 1985,” Mr. Gupta narrated the story of how MKU was formed. “We started the defense business in 1989 by supplying helmets to the Indian army. In 1992, we became the sole supplier to the Indian army.”
In 1999, as India fought in the Kargil war with Pakistan. The army came to need protection at a high altitude in Jammu and Kashmir. At the time, the army used heavy body armor fashioned out of steel. During the war, India bought 40,000 of these sets of body armor from European countries.
“After the war, Indian army contacted us,” Mr. Gupta continued. “They saw that we were manufacturing helmets and wanted us to look into manufacturing helmets and ballistic vests from composite material. That was when we entered the body armor business and we were the first company in India to start manufacturing lightweight composite body armor for the Indian armed forces.
“In 2003, we got an opportunity to supply body armor to the Spanish armed forces. I am proud to say that all the Spanish soldiers that fought in Iraq were using body armor made by MKU.”
Today, over a 100 countries, 230 forces and 3 million soldiers are using MKU products. They have also provided protection for more than 3000 platforms. “You name the country, they have been our customer at some point or another,” Mr. Gupta added.
MKU’s main business verticals
“Today, I would say that MKU operates on 3 business verticals,” Mr. Gupta explained, “the first being NETRO Soldier Optronics. This is an industry-leading solution for night vision and thermal equipment which allows a soldier to operate in the dark. These have been completely developed in-house with extensive R&D and rapid technology adoption. This includes monocular and binocular night vision goggles and thermal imaging.
“Our second product range is KAVRO Soldier Protection. These are smart personal protection solutions which give the soldier multi-threat protection using patented technologies and systems developed with years of research and development. These include ballistic helmets, body armor and ballistic shields. And for our last division, we have KAVRO platform protection, for the protection of helicopters, ships, boats and aircrafts.”
Materials and innovation
MKU uses the leading ballistic materials from the US and Europe for their products, such as DSM Dyneema, Honeywell Spectra and Teijin Twaron. “My materials team are experts in combination of various composite materials,” Mr. Gupta elaborated, “to give the best body armor today.”
Body armor for Indian forces
Recently, discourses have circulated around the perceived lack of body armor for Indian forces. Mr. Gupta believes that this condition is changing. “The government is being proactive,” he explained, “and they are allocating a lot of funds to modernize the policemen and the soldiers out there.
“Very recently, we concluded a contract for 160,000 helmets. The army also bought a large quantity of body armor as well. We are regular suppliers to forces all over India. So, I think there is a clear emphasis now by the government to equip the policemen so they can follow their duty.”
Importance of quality control
“As far as body armor is concerned, I would say that we have one of the lightest body armor solutions in the markets,” Mr. Gupta said. “When it comes to soft or hard armor, our solutions are NIJ-certified, and we are one of the few companies that has a very special level of quality control system specifically for body armor. This is the BA 9000. So, our quality control is very stringent, and that is where we deliver confidence in our heroes through our products.”
The company is proud to state that all the body armor protection of MKU is proven in combat. They see customers expressing thankfulness to the company for saving their life as a testament to this. Ishita Kheterpal, Marketing Consultant at MKU elaborated upon this statement.
“At the end of the day, it’s about instilling as much confidence in somebody who is entering a field where they don’t know what’s going to happen. If you feel confident, that will be your best weapon. That’s the pride of the company.”
A customer-centric future
“Our heroes are at the core,” Mr. Gupta said, “Customer centricity is a value that the company focuses on. Keeping our heroes in focus, we want to develop new solutions. With our Smart Trinity thought process – which works on functionality, technology and comfort, we want tot to develop more innovative solutions. I would like to challenge my technical and R&D team to develop new materials, new designs, new functionality features required by soldiers and policemen of the future.
“Innovation is the future, and we keep the soldier at the core. At MKU, we really want to listen to our customer, their future needs and their upcoming requirements. We want to offer them tailor made solutions. We want them to feel safe and confident, as they are helping us to have a safer future.”