Ladakh standoff: DRDO offers two options to develop an Indian light tank - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Stuff.

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Sunday, 2 August 2020

Ladakh standoff: DRDO offers two options to develop an Indian light tank

Both options are based on the hull of the K-9 Vajra self-propelled gun (above) that L&T is building under Korean licence

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 3rd July 20

The ministry of defence (MoD) last month fast-tracked the emergency purchase of light tanks to counter possible attacks by over 20,000 Chinese troops poised on the Ladakh border along with tanks, artillery, air defence guns and road construction units.

To eliminate the costly and time-consuming import of light tanks, the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) has developed plans for building an indigenous light tank for use in mountains and in jungle terrain.

Arrayed on the Ladakh border is the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA’s) new light tank, the small, agile and versatile ZTQ 105 – also known as the Type 15 tank. To counter these, India’s Ladakh garrison has just three tank regiments with a total of 150 old T-72 medium tanks. 

Weighing a hefty 42 tonnes, the T-72 is designed for the plains; movement on mountain roads is slow and often impossible. Given the limited elevation and depression of its heavy gun, the T-72 cannot engage targets on hilltops and in valleys.

In contrast, the Indian army has used light tanks to great effect in the mountains. In 1944, it used Stuart and Sherman tanks in the battle of Kohima. In 1948 these same tanks pushed back Pakistan forces in the Zojila pass. Against China in 1962, the army used light AMX-13 tanks in the battle of Gurung Hill near Pangong Tso and also deployed them in Bomdila and Dirang in Arunachal Pradesh. In the 1971 Bangladesh campaign, French AMX-13 and Soviet PT-76 tanks played a stellar role in the battle of Garibpur.

Business Standard learns the DRDO has short-listed two options for developing an indigenous light tank within 18 months. Both these involve marrying the DRDO’s tank development expertise created while developing the Arjun tank, with the defence manufacturing capability of companies such as Larsen & Toubro that are already building the K9 Vajra self-propelled gun system.

The first option involves creating a 34-35 tonne tank by fitting a 105 millimetre Cockerill gun turret onto a K-9 Vajra hull, powered by a 1,000 horsepower MTU engine optimised for high altitudes. DRDO sources say this hybrid tank could go into production within 18 months.

The DRDO’s second option retains the K-9 Vajra hull and MTU engine, but matched with the gun turret of the T-90S tank that the army already uses. This 38-tonne tank would also require 18 months for going into production.

Larsen & Toubro is assembling the K-9 Vajra under licence from South Korea and will deliver its current order by next year. If the K-9 Vajra chassis is to form the basis for an Indian light tank, it would have to extend that licence.

The DRDO is confident that either of these hybrid tanks would be better options than what the MoD is considering buying: the Russian Sprut SDM1. They point out that the Sprut is a tank destroyer with old technology and that no other country has bought it. Since the Russian military has bought only 24 Spruts, it is not in regular production, making it hard to meet early delivery schedules and Russia would have to be approached for spares, overhaul and future upgrades.

The DRDO has earlier attempted to develop light tanks, but there was never any real interest from the army. In the 1980s, the DRDO integrated the chassis of the Soviet BMP-1 infantry combat vehicle with a 105 millimetre gun, but the army was not interested.

Next, the DRDO mounted a French GIAT TS-90 turret and a 105 millimetre gun on the BMP chassis, which the Ordnance Factory Board was building in Odisha. Again the army was indifferent and the project was shelved.

In 2009, the army’s interest in light tanks was renewed with the sanction of two armoured brigades for high altitude operations alongside the mountain strike corps. The army issued a request for information (RFI) in 2009, but eventually T-72 tanks were deemed adequate and the RFI was abandoned.

Now, there is fresh interest with the possibility of encountering the PLA’s new ZTQ 105 light tank, built by China’s North Industries Group Corporation (NORINCO) and unveiled during the Zhuhai Air Show in 2016.

The ZTQ 105 has a 105 millimetre rifled gun that can destroy tanks at ranges of three kilometres and can fire anti-tank guided missiles that knock out tanks at ranges of 5 kilometres.



13 comments:

  1. Light tanks are tanks in the weight category of 18-25 tonnes.
    For a 35 ton category tank it is better to work on a lighter Arjun.
    The K-9 chasis if imported will involve foreign exchange outflow and it will not be an indigenous tank.
    If K-9 chasis is licensed produced in India then royalties have to be paid.
    To reduce price and avoid foreign exchange outflow for direct imports or royalties it is better to start a project for weight reduction of Arjun.

    ReplyDelete
  2. @Ajai sir

    a much better idea would be to use Vijayanta tanks powered by 1000 hp engine, these can be done in lesst than a yr as only the engine needs to replaced. but this tanks needs to be backed by a ICV made of Vijayanta tank chassis with twin 120 mm breech loaded mortar turret

    thanks

    Joydeep Ghosh

    ReplyDelete
  3. As per Wikipedia -
    K9 Vajra = 47 Tonnes.
    T-90 Tank = 46 Tonnes.

    Whether they use the T-90 turret on the Vajra Chassis or the Cockerel Turret - how are they going to bring the weight down?

    ReplyDelete
  4. I recall from a decade ago, that DRDO had developed Tank-EX for the Army. It even took part in a Republic Day parade ! (per Wikipedia).

    Wonder why the army and MoD are never interested in ANY of DRDO's light tank proposals.

    Is it because DRDO doesn't give baksheesh under the table ? Is that why a clearly inferior and expensive T-90 is still being ordered despite Arjun's proven superiority in 2008 trials ?

    ReplyDelete
  5. It should not be difficult to shoot down a tank in the mountains by a hand held anti tank weapon.

    Surely this is easy meat for our apache.

    A tank in the mountains is a sitting duck....why ape the Chinese

    We should have our own DOCTRINE for mountain warfare

    ReplyDelete
  6. @ Vikram_P
    Apaches operating in narrow mountain gaps are likely to be easier meat for ground based portable AD missiles.Wonder if any apache pilot will be willing to hunt tanks unprotected from
    all directions/sides.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Surely a tank moving at 45kms in the mountains can be taken out by ISRAEL Spike anti tank missiles else drones/ mirage/ rafale would use BVR HAMMER TO KNOCK OUT THE CHINESE TANKS WITH POOR ARMOUR....

      Delete
  7. Please comment on the gap between the developer and the client ? why DRDO is interested to make something that Army is not interested in? Why can't there be a dialogue between the two. I am sure there is more to it.

    ReplyDelete
  8. What is the game being played by the Indians,and who is the architect ?

    The architect is Narendra Modi.

    The war being waged on PRC,is an Alt-War,by the media and the Indian Industry.dindooohindoo

    Y the Indian Industry ? It is simple. The Indian Industry wants to use COVID and the Galwan debacle, to CAPTURE the market share of Chinese companies - ON ANY PRETEXT - and thus boost the sales of Indian Industry.

    Basically,Indians are not competent to take on Chinese Manufacturing,or IT or Telecom services.It is not about scale and regulations,and the political system.It is just that on a man to man basis,the Indians are useless,on matters of intellect,intelligence,dexterity,innovation,speed,hard work and loyalty.

    BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY,who are these Media companies and the Industrialists.THEY ARE BANIAS,Id.est.,from the Trading Community of India.They have NO intellect and are a BURDEN, and a CURSE on India.

    Of the dead Indian soldiers in Galwan – as an aside,how many banias.jains.marwaris, gujaratis, brahmins ……………

    The answer is ZERO.These Banias have NEVER FOUGHT a war for India,in the last 5000 years ! However, they INCITE AND BRAINWASH SONS OF POOR FARMERS AND DALITS,TO DIE FOR WARS OF THE INDIAN NATION.These wars AROSE, due to the BLUNDERS AND FALSE EGO,of the same BANIAS,who are in the bureaucracy,and the POLITY.

    Has a single bania EVER died for India ? Nein !

    The Banias financed the Brits,and brought in the Sakas and Mughals ………..

    The Banias provided vital intel,to the invaders

    The Banias financed the slave trade of Indians,and also the slave trade in Arabia

    The Banias had the executor role, in the Bengal famine

    Narendra Modi is a Bania - haunted by his origins and the history OF THE GUJARATIS - who ARE
    DESCRIBED AS A "BASTARD RACE" in the MAHABHARATA. What the Mahabharata means is that,these Gujaratis were born from the rapes of Gujarati women,1400 to 2000 years ago,by the Sakas,Scythians,Turks,Turkics, Afghans,Persians,Parthinians etc.

    And that is WHAT IS THE CAUSE OF THE INFERIORITY COMPLEX OF INDIANS, GUJARATIS,BANIAS and their FALSE EGO AND PRIDE - which leads THEM TO CARRY OUT A GENOCIDE OF KASHMIRIS AND DALITS AND MUSLIMS - in order to establish their CREDENTIALS AS A MACHO/MARTIAL RACE - which they NEVER WERE and NEVER WILL BE.

    This is the verse of the Mahabharata on the GUJARATIS as a "Bastard Race"

    The Mahabharata , Book 8: Karna Parva ,Section 45

    The Pancalas observe the duties enjoined in the Vedas; the Kauravas observe truth; the Matsyas and the Surasenas perform sacrifices, the Easterners follow the practices of the Shudras; the Southerners are fallen; the Vahikas are thieves; the SAURASHTRAS ARE BASTARDS

    Narendra Modi is a Gujarati and a OILMAN,id.,est a caste that crushes oilseeds,to make oil and oil cakes

    What does the Mahabharata say about these OILMEN ?

    The Mahabharata, Book 8: Karna Parva: Section 45

     The mlecchas are the dirt of mankind: the "oilmen are the dirt of the Mlecchas"; eunuchs are the dirt of oilmen; they who avail of the priestly ministrations of Kshatriyas, in their sacrifices, are the dirt of eunuchs.

    The word "dirt" used in the abovesaid verse,means "the discharge,id.est., the sperm or the menstrual fluid" of Mlecchas

    Narendra Modi has not gotten over his humble and questionable birth,and his mother's profession

    Throughout Indian History - when men w/o pedigree,have ruled over India - they have destroyed India immediately thereafter.They all thought they were special,and from the grass roots.This is a apocalyptic trait,peculiar to Hindoos.

    To hide over the "shame of their birth and upbringing" and the "vicious physical and mental torture" as children - they "gravitate to extreme forms of menial thought and cruelty" - ignoring all sage counsel - as they feel it is a sign of courage and fortitude,in the face of adversity and pressures (Like the Kashmir disaster by Modi)

    ReplyDelete
  9. I present the chronicles of Narnia (Narendra Modi of India)

    Make in India = Total Disaster.
    Defense Manufacturing in India = Total Disaster.
    Demonetisation = Total Disaster.
    Space = Disaster.ISRO Chandrayaan has doomed all hopes.
    Employment = Disaster.Destruction of all SME and Unorganised Jobs – FOREVER.
    IAF = Disaster.IAF completely destroyed by the PAF in Balakot.The IAF took the advice of Modi.They did not send the best fighter jets against the PAF – Why ?
    How did 6 PAF – F-16s cross the Indian ADS (in daylight) and almost kill the Indian Army Chief and GOC-in-C Northern Command (and all escaped the ADS on the way back
    and the ADS shot down its own Chopper)
    Banking = Doomed.NPA is at least 400 Billion USD in the organised sector – RBI is defrauding the nation by hiding and lying.MUDRA loans are 150 Billion USD of which
    at least 40% will disappear.Then there is the informal banking disaster (NBFC/Chit Funds etc.).
    Kashmir and Art 370 Disaster
    Crowning Glory is the Galwan Disaster

    IT IS THE DESTINY OF PRC AND XI JIN PING TO LIBERATE KASHMIR AND THE NORTH EAST INDIA AND SET THE BASIS FOR THE “REAL FREEDOM MOVEMENT” IN INDIA.dindooohindoo

    THE FREEDOM OF THE DALITS AND THE MUSLIMS

    ReplyDelete
  10. For the current crisis the Sprut should be bought with its 125mm main gun which outguns the PLA's light tank with only a 105mm gun.However,it is lightly armoured and would require some ERA additions.Even with ERA its weight would be below 20t,easy to transport by air to Ladakh.Russia has also just delivered large numbers to its forces of its BMP series of vehicles,the BMP-4 also air transportable.Immediate deliveries may be possible for ICVs.

    In the meantime,the DRDO,IA must quickly draw up specs for a light amphibious tank that like the erstwhile PT-76 can be used in any terrain plus in amphibious operations.

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete

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