Why do Indian soldiers wear such strange headgear?
The strange headgear you are referring is Patka Headgear actually. These are indigenously developed combat helmets for Indian Army Soldiers operating in Kashmir which is lighter than Indian Army standard Model 1974 Helmet but does not trade off the protection required as it gives protection against variety of lethal rounds.
It has been specially designed for turbaned security personnel to provide vital Head Protection. It comes in 3 different sizes. It does not cause any ill effects like fatique, headache to the wearer during prolong usage.
It is light and much more comfortable than Indian Army standard Model 1974 Helmet. It gives comprehensive protection to the soldier’s head and it is easily fitted on the head. They have a ballistic strip manufactured from a high-density, die-pressed phantom steel. Cushioning material is used in the inner lining of the Patka helmets for additional comfort. It also has good ergonomics , and is provided with chin cup and cup. It is also lightweight with its weight around 1 kg to 1.5 kg depending on the roles. It has provision for flaps (Neck, Cheek and Ear cover) with protection against 9mm Pistol/Revolver/Carbine/fragmentation.
It is also compatible with modern communication devices and Night Vision Devices also.
It is so designed that it is comfortable to wear in extreme cold condition and provides much needed warmth also to wearer.
It gives protection against 9mm FMJ all around the circumference of the head. The forhead portion gives protection against 250x75mm Indian ball lead core rounds , SLR 7.62x51mm Indian lead ball round and also 7.62x39mm AK-47 mild steel core ammunition even in close ranges. This was fundamental for Indian soldiers participating in COIN Ops. Patka has proved itself in many such instances where Patka saved the soldiers from a hit from an AK-Round at close ranges.
It can withstand onslaught fire of AK-47 in front from a distance of 25 meters & 9mm pistol fire from the rear from a distance of 10 meters. The trauma effect is absorbed by the cushioning material & trauma pads provided in the inside top of the patka.
Though Indian Army is adopting new modern light-weight Advanced Combat Helmets, we might not see it getting replaced anytime sooner as for Sikh Soldiers mainly Patka will be the standard head-gear. Future versions of Patka might see better protection and features. Patka at present have been adopted by Rashtriya Rifles Soldiers in Kashmir region and even Indian Army Para Special Forces.