India is looking for a light tank. Will they bet on their own industry?

This post was published in Defence24. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.


WARSAW, (BM) – According to local media reports, the Indian Ministry of Defense has recently accelerated plans to acquire new light tanks for the Indian army.

Despite expressing interest in the Russian 2S25M Sprut-SDM1 tank destroyer, the domestic arms industry declares its readiness to rapidly construct and start production of a domestic structure of this type.

The Indian Defense Research & Development Organization (DRDO) has proposed two potential options for the rapid development of a local light tank in only 18 months based on the components and technologies in the so-called shelfs.

This concept assumes a combination of DRDO’s experience and know-how in the development of heavy combat vehicles with the production capabilities and technologies of the domestic arms industry.

The first variant is to create a light tank weighing 34-35 tons based on the chassis of the K9 Vajra self-propelled howitzer [locally produced license version of the South Korean K9 Thunder] and the Cockerill turret system armed with a 105 mm rifled gun [which can be produced locally for license].

The second variant assumes the use of an analogous chassis, but with the use of a modified turret of the T-90S Bhishma MBT [produced locally under the license of the Russian T-90S version] with a total weight of approx. 38 tons.

This solution is also to be an alternative to the costly and time-consuming import of a new construction of this type from abroad and to be part of the government’s Make In India initiative. DRDO strongly opposes the potential plans to purchase the Russian Spruts, emphasizing that it is an age-old construction that does not meet the latest requirements of the Indian land forces, which was introduced into the line service in a small number only by a native user.

The lack of other export recipients and the maintenance of the current series production may extend the potential delivery period of these vehicles for India.

The Indian military’s sudden interest in acquiring a vehicle of this type may have been triggered by the deployment of the newest Chinese Type 15 Light Tanks (VT-5) in the Tibet Autonomous Oblast, where they recently participated in high-altitude exercises, significantly reinforcing Chinese forces in the area.

The new light tank, thanks to its small weight and size, can prove itself in the Indian army as a substitute for Main Battle Tanks in the difficult, mountainous terrain of the Himalayas, increasing the combat capabilities and firepower of the sub-units deployed there.


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