During the last year’s Galwan standoff with China in the northern Ladakh, Indian army realised the need for light tanks which can operate at those heights and provide mobile destructive fire power. Indian authorities expressed interest in Russian light tank Sprut and it appeared that India will purchase them.
One year after, India has come out with a Request for Information (RFI) for tanks below 25 tons under the “Make-in-India ethos and spirit of the Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) - 2020.” India is looking for 350 of them.
Indian Army, in the RFI said, “In the foreseeable operational scenario, the need for an agile and mobile light platform, with adequate firepower, protection, surveillance and communication capabilities is increasingly finding its operational relevance.”
“The Light Tank must have the versatility to execute operations in varying terrain conditions across diverse threat and equipment profile of the adversaries Hence, Light Tank , having employability in various sectors in the country, as well as rapid overseas deployment capability is an operational imperative,” it added.
India desires to own detailed design manufacturing know-how of the platform. “The Indian Development Agency will retain the ownership of the design and technologies for the platform to ensure achievement of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’, the document said.
Unlike last year when Indian army was interested in deploying light tanks in high altitude terrain, this time there has been a comprehensive consideration on its utilisation in various terrains which are out of bound for main battle tanks (MBT).
Indian army is looking for tanks which are suitable for operation in high altitude areas, marginal terrain of Rann of Kutch and amphibious roles. Modern light tank comes with fire power of main battle tanks and sufficient protection for high intensity battle. In challenging terrain they are capable of providing firepower akin to MBTs.
The 25 ton tank is expected to be modular and transportable by in-service rail, road, air and water. India army expects it to have a crewed maximum three personnel. Highlighting the operational requirement of Indian army, the RFI says, “All systems and assemblies including ammunition should be able to operate in a minimum temperature as in High Altitude Area and maximum range as existing in deserts terrain, including the existing humid conditions across varied terrain.”
To defeat Tanks/A vehicles, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, soft skin vehicles, India army is looking for tanks with multiple weapons for anti-air craft and ground role with different calibre assisted with Remote Control Weapon Station.
The primary and secondary weapons are expected to fire “Modern Advance Multipurpose ‘Smart Munitions’ with Gun tube launched anti-tank guided missile.”
In terms of protection, Indian Army is looking for extremely well protected vehicle with state-of-the-art measures including “STANAG Level of all round passive protection including top, bottom, sides and frontal, Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA), Soft Kill Measures, Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear (CBRN) Protection & Instant Fire Detection and Suppression System (IFDSS).”
Read our last years stories on Light Tank