After Mahindra, now TATA set to bag contract for armoured vehicles as army upgrades mobility

YB WEB DESK. Dated: 4/3/2021 1:08:49 PM

New Delhi, Apr 02 After Bharat Forge and Mahindra, the TATA Group is set to bag a contract from the Indian Army for heavy armoured protection vehicles for its soldiers deployed in key sectors. Sources in the defence and security establishment said the while the programs to ensure better mobility and protection to infantry soldiers started years ago, the recent standoff with China has shown the need for the critical capability in inhospitable terrains. The Indian capability was seen wanting in Ladakh where the Chinese displayed greater mobility, inducting and de-inducting troops from frontline areas faster as they used different kinds of vehicles for the infantry. “The vehicles not only provide protection to the soldiers but also help in faster induction and de-induction,” a source said. The Indian Army has now sped up the process for its own acquisition process. The first to hit off the ground were M4 armoured vehicles, of South African origin, which were tested in Ladakh during the standoff with China. Last month, the Ministry of Defence also signed a contract with Mahindra Defence Systems Ltd (MDSL) for a supply of 1,300 light specialist vehicles to the Indian Army, at a cost of Rs 1,056 crore. Sources said there are two more programs for procurement of special wheeled vehicles, one of which has TATA as the frontrunner. However, in terms of units, the numbers are less than 100 vehicles when combined together, the sources said. the Army upgrading its mobility power, orders for 27 M4 armoured vehicles were placed in February with the Pune-based Bharat Forge of the Kalyani group, which has a tieup with the South African firm Paramount Group. The vehicles, a multirole platform, designed to meet the requirements of the armed forces for quick mobility in rough terrain and in areas affected by mine and IED threats, are expensive as 27 of them cost Rs 177.95 crore. Meanwhile, the 1,300 light specialist vehicles that Mahindra is to deliver in the next four years are authorised to various fighting units for carriage of medium machine guns, automatic grenade launchers as well as anti-tank guided missiles. “These vehicles are different from the M4 and are meant for specific operations. The Army is looking at different types of troop carrying wheeled vehicles which offer various grades of armoured protection,” another source in the defence establishment said. Incidentally, certain specialised units of the Army have gone in for light strike vehicles (LSVs) from Bharat Forge that offer a lot of room for special operations as they can be airdropped for operations deep inside enemy territory. While contracts are being signed now, the fact is that they are long pending programmes, a source explained. He added that the LSV for the Special Forces, which was inked in 2019, was actually envisioned in 2002 as part of a study conducted by the Army for modernisation of Special Forces. Similarly, armoured protection for infantry soldiers was a proposal that was first moved in 2011 by the department concerned in the Army, only to be set aside by the force’s top hierarchy for certain reasons.


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