Light tanks for Indian Army

WolfPack86

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EYE ON CHINA THREAT, ARMY LAUNCHES PROJECT ZORAWAR TO DEPLOY LIGHT TANKS FOR MOUNTAIN WARFARE
New Delhi:
With the “increased threat” from China along India’s northern borders “likely to remain in the foreseeable future”, the Army is launching Project Zorawar — the induction of indigenous light tanks for quicker deployment and movement in high altitude areas.


These tanks will be used to counter Chinese deployment of a large number of similar armoured columns along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Sources in the defence and security establishment said that the Army has finalised the general staff quality requirements and will approach the defence ministry in September for the Acceptance of Necessity (AON) — the first step that will set the project rolling.

The Army is looking at a light tank with a maximum weight of 25 tons — with a margin of 10 per cent — with the same firepower as its regular tanks, but also armed with Artificial Intelligence (AI), integration of tactical surveillance drones to provide a high degree of situational awareness and loitering munition, along with an active protection system.

An active protection system is designed to protect vehicles from anti-tank guided missiles and projectiles away from combat vehicles.

The Army also wants the light tank to be amphibious, so it can be deployed across riverine regions and even the Pangong Tso lake in Eastern Ladakh.

The project has been named ‘Zorawar’ after Zorawar Singh Kahluria — a military general who served under Jammu’s Raja Gulab Singh — known as the ‘conqueror of Ladakh’.

“We will approach the defence ministry for AON as early as next month. This would be an indigenous project which will be designed and manufactured in India. We hope to have the production of a prototype and beginning of trials in three years from the sanction of the project,” a source said.

Sources further said that the proposed conversion of the Vajra-tracked self-propelled artillery into a light tank has been shelved because it won’t be able to meet the weight criteria that the Army is looking for.

They added that the 25-ton weight is the maximum that can allow for the tanks to be airlifted in high-altitude zones.

China's Light Tank Deployment Gave Them An Advantage

Sources said that the Ladakh stand-off with China has shown that armoured columns are one of the most prominent factors in defining the operational capability of the land forces.

Army sources admitted that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had inducted a large number of technologically modern, “state of art” tanks, which were being employed operationally as a mix of medium and light tanks with high power-to-weight ratios.

The increased threat on the northern borders is likely to remain a threat in the foreseeable future, sources further said, adding that while the Army had also deployed its T-90 and T-72 tanks — surprising the Chinese — lighter tanks would mean faster deployment and increased mobility in mountainous terrain.

The Army currently operates three different types of tanks with the latest being the Arjun Mk 1A, which weighs a massive 68.5 tons. The T-90 weighs about 46 tons and the T-72 about 45 tons.

“Tanks were primarily designed for operations in plains and desert terrain and have their own limitations when employed in High-Altitude Areas (HAAs). They face a similar handicap when employed in the marginal terrain of the Rann of Kutch,” said another source.

“It is, therefore, an operational necessity to procure light tanks to overcome the limitations faced by medium battle tanks and equip the Indian Army for all contingencies in HAA, marginal terrain and island territories, besides its utilisation in the plains, semi-deserts, and deserts,” the source added.

Sources explained that the setback that the world supply chain has experienced in defence-related component supplies because of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war has impacted both manufacturing and sustenance of the foreign fleet of tanks that India is currently holding.

It’s therefore essential to design and develop the light tank indigenously for the Indian Army, they added.

The sources made it clear that India will not be going in for the Russian Sprut light tanks, but added that they are looking for something with similar capabilities.

The Modi government had in March this year given in-principle approval for the indigenous design and development of light tanks for mountain warfare.

This move sealed the prospect of possible induction of the Sprut tanks that the Russians had offered to India during Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s Russia visit in 2020.

Past History of Indian Light Tank Deployment

The Army has in the past successfully employed light tanks as force multipliers in multiple battle engagements in the past.

This includes the deployment of Stuart tanks of the 254 Indian Tank Brigade in the Battle of Kohima in World War II, at Naushera, Jhangar, Rajauri, and most successfully, at Zojila in the Indo-Pak War 1947-48.

The AMX-13 tanks were deployed at Chushul and Bomdila in 1962 and in Chammb in 1965.

The amphibious PT-76 light tanks were deployed successfully in 1971, with the tanks leading the race to Dacca.

The AMX-13 and PT-76 tanks were phased out in the 1980s after the focus of the Army shifted primarily to the western borders, resulting in the conversion of PT-76 units to the T-72 profile.

The requirement of a light tank capability, which had proved in the past to be a battle-winning factor for the Indian Army in mountainous and riverine terrain, had been voiced on numerous occasions since 1982, sources said.

“Current threat scenario and the contours of the likely future wars have thrown up new challenges for which the Indian Army has to be prepared. The equipment profile of tanks in the Indian Army must have the versatility and flexibility of medium and light platforms,” a third source said.

Sources said that a lightweight agile platform with a high power-to-weight ratio with substantial firepower, protection, surveillance, and communication capabilities is essential to provide the Army the versatility to execute operations in varying terrain against diverse threats and equipment profiles of adversaries.

“Armoured Fighting Vehicle-Indian Light Tank (AFV-ILT) offering capability for multiple employment options along with niche technologies is, therefore, an operational imperative,” one of the sources cited above said.
 

WolfPack86

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WHY INDIA NEED TO END DEPENDENCE ON RUSSIAN WEAPONS
India plans to induct light tanks, Russia's Sprut-SDM1 Light Tank is one of the options


It is important for India to diversify its base, to not become too reliant on any single nation, as it can become a leverage that can be exploited by that nation


by Vincent Fernandes

India was reliant, almost solely on the British, and other Western nations for its arms imports immediately after Independence but by the 1970s India was importing several weapons systems from the USSR, making it country's largest defence importer for decades when it came to both basic and sophisticated weapons systems.

Russia has provided some of the most sensitive and important weapons platforms that India has required from time to time including nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers, tanks, guns, fighter jets, and missiles. For Russia, India is the largest importer, and for India, Russia the largest exporter when it comes to arms transfer.

Between 2000 and 2020, Russia accounted for 66.5 per cent of India's arms imports especially with respect to fighter jets, tanks, helicopters and submarines among others, while several major deals are in the pipeline.

India and Russia have an institutionalized structure to oversee the complete range of issues of military-technical cooperation. Bilateral projects currently underway include indigenous production of T-90 tanks and Su-30-MKI aircraft, supply of MiG-29-K aircraft and Kamov-31 and Mi-17 helicopters, upgrade of MiG-29 aircraft and supply of multi-barrel rocket launcher Smerch.

Over the years, cooperation in the military-technical sphere has evolved from a purely buyer-seller relationship to joint research, design development and production of state-of-the-art military platforms. Production of the Brahmos cruise missile is an example of this trend. The two countries are also engaged in joint design and development of the fifth generation fighter aircraft and multi-role transport aircraft.

As the war in Ukraine continues unabatedly with no end in sight, it has given rise to apprehensions on Russia's ability to deliver spares and hardware. Before the war, Russia has been one of the main exporters of fighter aircraft to India, including hundreds of Sukhoi and MiG jets. India's missile program has been developed with significant help from Russia or the Soviets earlier.

The BrahMos missile, which India will begin exporting soon, has been developed jointly with Russia. The Indian Army's main battle tank force is composed predominantly of Russian T-72M1 (66 per cent) and T-90S (30 percent).

The Indian Air Force's 667-plane fighter ground attack (FGA) fleet is 71 per cent Russian-origin (39 per cent Su-30s, 22 per cent MiG-21s, 9 per cent MiG-29s). All six of the service's air tankers are Russian-made Il-78s.

Russia and India are 'very motivated' to ensure that the defence cooperation between the two strategic partners is 'uninterrupted' by the Ukraine crisis, and 'barriers' created by 'negative external factors' are being effectively mitigated, Russian Ambassador Denis Alipov said.

The defence trade between India and Russia has crossed $15 billion since 2018, in the backdrop of some big deals including the $5.43 billion S-400 long-range air defence systems.

Other major contracts currently under implementation are construction of four additional stealth frigates in Russia and India, licensed production of the Mango Armor-piercing fin-stabilised discarding sabot (APFSDS) rounds for the T-90S tanks as also additional T-90S tanks, AK-203 assault rifles among others. The delivery of the second regiment of the S-400 is delayed by a few months as also the operationalisation of the agreement for the manufacture of 6.1 lakh AK-203 rifles at Korwa, Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.

India continues to remain Russia's largest arms buyer with a major chunk of legacy hardware from Russia and the Soviet Union, but the volume of imports has reduced in the last decade.

Current Challenges

The Indian Army is dependent on certain weapon systems especially in the area of air defence, rockets, missiles and certain tanks from Russia and Ukraine. The supply chain of certain spares and ammunition has been impacted to some extent. Russia has been useful to India in some ways, particularly in enhancing Indian military power. But Moscow's political compulsion to support China is a warning. India's dependence on Moscow for weapons is a vulnerability that the Indian decision-makers need to take more seriously.

Russia is also helping China set up its missile early warning system, one of the most sensitive bits of technology for any nuclear power. The source of divergence between Indian and Russian interests lies in the continuing problems that Russia faces in its relations with the US. It is important for India to diversify its base, to not become too reliant on any single nation, as it can become a leverage that can be exploited by that nation.

Besides trying to become self-dependent, conscious efforts should be made to expand the weapons platform bases to not only other countries but also domestically as well. India is now looking at certain alternative mitigation measures and identifying alternate sources from friendly foreign countries. All this will happen at Defexpo in October.
 

Hari Sud

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WHY INDIA NEED TO END DEPENDENCE ON RUSSIAN WEAPONS
India plans to induct light tanks, Russia's Sprut-SDM1 Light Tank is one of the options


It is important for India to diversify its base, to not become too reliant on any single nation, as it can become a leverage that can be exploited by that nation


by Vincent Fernandes

India was reliant, almost solely on the British, and other Western nations for its arms imports immediately after Independence but by the 1970s India was importing several weapons systems from the USSR, making it country's largest defence importer for decades when it came to both basic and sophisticated weapons systems.

Russia has provided some of the most sensitive and important weapons platforms that India has required from time to time including nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers, tanks, guns, fighter jets, and missiles. For Russia, India is the largest importer, and for India, Russia the largest exporter when it comes to arms transfer.

Between 2000 and 2020, Russia accounted for 66.5 per cent of India's arms imports especially with respect to fighter jets, tanks, helicopters and submarines among others, while several major deals are in the pipeline.

India and Russia have an institutionalized structure to oversee the complete range of issues of military-technical cooperation. Bilateral projects currently underway include indigenous production of T-90 tanks and Su-30-MKI aircraft, supply of MiG-29-K aircraft and Kamov-31 and Mi-17 helicopters, upgrade of MiG-29 aircraft and supply of multi-barrel rocket launcher Smerch.

Over the years, cooperation in the military-technical sphere has evolved from a purely buyer-seller relationship to joint research, design development and production of state-of-the-art military platforms. Production of the Brahmos cruise missile is an example of this trend. The two countries are also engaged in joint design and development of the fifth generation fighter aircraft and multi-role transport aircraft.

As the war in Ukraine continues unabatedly with no end in sight, it has given rise to apprehensions on Russia's ability to deliver spares and hardware. Before the war, Russia has been one of the main exporters of fighter aircraft to India, including hundreds of Sukhoi and MiG jets. India's missile program has been developed with significant help from Russia or the Soviets earlier.

The BrahMos missile, which India will begin exporting soon, has been developed jointly with Russia. The Indian Army's main battle tank force is composed predominantly of Russian T-72M1 (66 per cent) and T-90S (30 percent).

The Indian Air Force's 667-plane fighter ground attack (FGA) fleet is 71 per cent Russian-origin (39 per cent Su-30s, 22 per cent MiG-21s, 9 per cent MiG-29s). All six of the service's air tankers are Russian-made Il-78s.

Russia and India are 'very motivated' to ensure that the defence cooperation between the two strategic partners is 'uninterrupted' by the Ukraine crisis, and 'barriers' created by 'negative external factors' are being effectively mitigated, Russian Ambassador Denis Alipov said.

The defence trade between India and Russia has crossed $15 billion since 2018, in the backdrop of some big deals including the $5.43 billion S-400 long-range air defence systems.

Other major contracts currently under implementation are construction of four additional stealth frigates in Russia and India, licensed production of the Mango Armor-piercing fin-stabilised discarding sabot (APFSDS) rounds for the T-90S tanks as also additional T-90S tanks, AK-203 assault rifles among others. The delivery of the second regiment of the S-400 is delayed by a few months as also the operationalisation of the agreement for the manufacture of 6.1 lakh AK-203 rifles at Korwa, Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.

India continues to remain Russia's largest arms buyer with a major chunk of legacy hardware from Russia and the Soviet Union, but the volume of imports has reduced in the last decade.

Current Challenges

The Indian Army is dependent on certain weapon systems especially in the area of air defence, rockets, missiles and certain tanks from Russia and Ukraine. The supply chain of certain spares and ammunition has been impacted to some extent. Russia has been useful to India in some ways, particularly in enhancing Indian military power. But Moscow's political compulsion to support China is a warning. India's dependence on Moscow for weapons is a vulnerability that the Indian decision-makers need to take more seriously.

Russia is also helping China set up its missile early warning system, one of the most sensitive bits of technology for any nuclear power. The source of divergence between Indian and Russian interests lies in the continuing problems that Russia faces in its relations with the US. It is important for India to diversify its base, to not become too reliant on any single nation, as it can become a leverage that can be exploited by that nation.

Besides trying to become self-dependent, conscious efforts should be made to expand the weapons platform bases to not only other countries but also domestically as well. India is now looking at certain alternative mitigation measures and identifying alternate sources from friendly foreign countries. All this will happen at Defexpo in October.
100% Anti Russian marketing in this article. Take price and quality into consideration. For roughly same quality, the Russian weapon price is Half.
 

Super falcon

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There is a chance India might go for us made light tanks so their apaches can calibrate with them better in terms of communication datalink sharing if India goes from Russian sprout will make things difficult for IN in mountains

Personaly USA tanks will do better with apaches against china specially with gps navigation of us military satellites will pin point locations with both these systems for india
 

Hari Sud

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There is a chance India might go for us made light tanks so their apaches can calibrate with them better in terms of communication datalink sharing if India goes from Russian sprout will make things difficult for IN in mountains

Personaly USA tanks will do better with apaches against china specially with gps navigation of us military satellites will pin point locations with both these systems for india
Not likely. You are allowed to dream.
 

JBH22

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100% Anti Russian marketing in this article. Take price and quality into consideration. For roughly same quality, the Russian weapon price is Half.
Exactly not to forget western weapons are sanction proned and require lots of pampering as compared to russian rugged system.
 

WolfPack86

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Indigenous Light Tank – Zorawar
DRDO is working on a Light Tank named 'Zorawar', fitted with High Altitude Operable Power pack (Engine + Transmission) of 1,000hp and capable of firing multiple ammunition to meet the Army's requirement of light tanks

It was reported in these columns last year that the Indian Army (IA) had issued a Request For Information (RFI) in April, inviting responses from overseas and domestic vendors for its planned procurement of 350 locally manufactured ‘light tanks’ weighing less than 25 tonnes along with performance-based logistics, niche technologies, engineering support package, and other maintenance and training requirements. Earlier in October 1999, the IA had issued a RFI for 200 wheeled light tanks (armoured cars) and about 100 tracked light tanks. This was after the 1999 Kargil Conflict.

The new RFI published on April 24, 2021, was because of the 2020 Chinese aggression and the continuing standoff, with China refusing to disengage from Depsang Plains, Gogra, Hot Springs and Demchok. The light tanks are to be procured in a “phased manner” under the ‘Make in India’ category of the Defence Ministry’s Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020 (DAP 2020).

Interestingly, the project for design and development of a light tank on BMP-I chassis by the DRDO was approved in 1983, which was to be completed in 1986. But it never reached completion although production and trials continued till 1996 at a total cost of 4.53 crore, well beyond its estimated 2.54 crore. This was despite the fact that in May 1993, the light tank was considered unnecessary and in 1994, the then Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister had advised that the project be closed.

China has deployed the ZTQ 105/Type 15 lightweight tank in entire Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) including in Eastern Ladakh and opposite Sikkim. The Type 15 has a maximum weight of 36 tonnes and offers the mobility and the firepower of a standard Main Battle Tank (MBT). Also called VT-5, the Type 15 is armed with one 105mm rifled gun with a thermal sleeve and fume extractor which has a maximum firing range of 3,000 metres. The gun is able to fire anti-tank missiles fitted with a tandem HEAT (High Explosive Anti-Tank) warhead that can destroy armoured or tanks protected with reactive armour (ERA). The missile has a maximum firing range of 5,000 metres.

During the Battle of Kohima in World War II, Stuart tanks were deployed by the British and later by India during the 1947-1948 Indo-Pak War in Naushera, Jhangar, Rajauri and on the height of Zojila very effectively. During the 1962 Sino-Indian War, AMX-13 tanks were deployed in Chushul and Bomdila. In 1971, the PT-76 tanks were used during the decimation of East Pakistan and liberation of Bangladesh. But all these light tanks have been phased out since. With the focus shifting to the Western borders, the lower tank profile changed to the T-72 tanks.

Currently, the Indian Army operates Russian-made main battle tank T-90S called Bhishma and T-72M1 nicknamed Ajeya in Ladakh. Modern heavy tanks are not designed to be deployed in mountainous regions with narrow roads and crossing points not able to support a combat vehicle with a weight of 50 tonnes. Void of light tanks also subjects the T-90 and T-72 tanks in high altitude to avoidable wear and tear.

The new RFI issued last year called for a light tank featuring a multiple, modular and upgradable weapon system with the capability to destroy and offer countermeasures to varied threats, also featuring multiple weapons for anti-aircraft and ground role with different calibre assisted with remote control weapon station; the tank should employ modern advance multipurpose ‘smart munitions’ with a gun able to fire anti-tank guided missiles; auxiliary power unit; preheated, environment control unit; anti-drone capability; UAV jammers and; net-enabled functions.

Following the issue of the RFI, G. Satheesh Reddy, then Secretary DDR&D and Chairman DRDO, had told media on May 1, 2021 that the USP (unique selling proposition) of DRDO’s proposed light tank for the Indian Army is that it will be fitted with High Altitude Operable Power pack (Engine + Transmission) of 1,000hp and will be capable of firing multiple ammunition. This tank may be called as the “highest altitude operable tank in the globe”. He also said that the design work has commenced and we will bring out the timelines.

Current news reports now quote defence sources to say that the Indian Army, having already finalised the Staff Quality Requirements (SQR) and will approach the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in September 2022 for the Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) to set the ball rolling. Reports of March 3, 2022, have said that ahead of the DefExpo 2022, the government has accorded Approval-in-Principle (AIP) for four projects which are under Make-I (this is funded by the government) and five projects under Make-II (this is industry-funded) categories of Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020. Among these projects covering all the three Services in Make-I category, is the AIP for 350 light tanks for the Indian Army. Five projects which will be funded by the industry under the Make-II procedure received AIP, for the Indian Army include the Autonomous Combat Vehicle; and Integrated Surveillance and Targeting System for the Mechanised Forces.

The DRDO is working on a Light Tank named ‘Zorawar’ to meet the Army’s requirement of light tanks. Project ‘Zorawar’ is named after Zorawar Singh Kahluria, a military General of Raja Gulab Singh of Jammu. Zorawar had led an expedition against China. A fort by his name is in Leh. The Zorawar tank has reportedly been designed in such a way that it will be able to operate in varying terrain from High Altitude Area, island territories as well as marginal terrain; meeting the IA’s requirement of also being amphibious, so it can be deployed across riverine regions and even in the Pangong Tso Lake in Eastern Ladakh.

The Indian Army is looking for versatility and flexibility of light and medium platforms — Armoured Fighting Vehicle-Indian Light Tank (AFV-ILT) which offers capability for multiple employment options and comes with niche technologies as an operational imperative. The MoD is planning to procure 'AFV-ILT' for the Indian Army to include an engineering support package plus maintenance and training under the Make-I category of DAP 2020.

News reports state that the Indian Army is looking to induct Zorawar “soon”. But the soon will likely translate to couple of years before the process following issue of the AoN is handled, with the inevitable red tape, right through development of the prototypes, successful trials, induction and meeting the IA’s numbers is completed. It is also ironic that Defence Minister George Fernandes had been calling China as India’s number one enemy more than two decades back but we only woke up to the requirement of light tanks when China delivered a kick to us in Eastern Ladakh during 2020. It is even more galling that we still are without a national security strategy.
 

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