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‘Global interest in India-modified M4’ — South African defence firm wants to manufacture in India

Paramount Group in talks with India's Kalyani Group to expand operations as many countries have expressed interest in India-specific modified M4 vehicles, the most capable variant.

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New Delhi: South African defence major, Paramount Group — which has a tie-up with India’s Kalyani Group for the joint production of M4 armoured vehicles for the Army here — wants to expand its Indian manufacturing presence to cater to its global clients, its founder Ivor Ichikowitz told ThePrint.

Paramount is in talks with Kalyani Group to expand operations as many other countries have evinced interest in the India-specific modified M4 vehicles, known as Kalyani M4.

“The volume demand is huge. Speed of delivery, quality and certification are huge factors in business. We are doubling down on our collaboration with the Kalyani Group to manufacture a range of products which will be exported to our international clients,” Ichikowitz said in an interview on the sidelines of the DefExpo 2022 held earlier this month in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

The Paramount group is an aerospace and defence major that was set up in South Africa in 1994 focusing on African governments, a region India is keen on.

The group had entered the Indian market in 2021 after the Army selected its M4 armoured and mine-protected vehicle to meet its requirement for wheeled armoured vehicles that can transport troops faster and is capable of operating in high-altitude regions.

The vehicle was ordered through Bharat Forge, part of the Kalyani Group, and underwent several India-specific changes which makes the variant the most capable M4 built till now.

As reported by ThePrint, while the initial order was for about 27 of these vehicles, the Army has placed multiple orders with the latest one to be integrated with the Israeli Spike anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) system.

“We are trying to make India a primary factor for Paramount’s global supply chain,” said Ichikowitz, adding that countries in Central Asia, Africa and the Middle East have shown an interest in the Indian specification M4, the latest generation variant.

With Paramount having an outstanding order book of close to a Billion US Dollars, its founder added, “We believe that, potentially into the future, a third of our order book could be sourced from the Indian manufacturing.”

The Paramount Group, Ichikowitz said, has a portfolio of over 70 products, and armoured vehicles is what he is focusing on in India.

Also read: After Mahindra, now TATA set to bag contract for armoured vehicles as Army upgrades mobility

‘Found perfect partner in Kalyani Group’

Welcoming the Indian government’s thrust on creating a defence ecosystem, Ichikowitz said that India will emerge as one of the big defence exporters in the world.

“Had you asked me three-four years ago whether we were looking at India as a potential manufacturing hub, I would not have been that confident. So much has changed and we have found in Kalyani Group a perfect partner,” he said.

The Kalyani M4, which is being built at the company’s Pune plant, is a multi-role platform capable of carrying a total of 10 soldiers to meet the requirements of the armed forces for quick mobility in rough terrain and in areas affected by mine and improvised explosive devices (IED) threats.

It has ballistic and blast protection from up to 50 kg TNT side blast, or IED or roadside bombs due to its design that is built on a flat-floor monocoque hull. With a thrust speed of 140 km per hour, the vehicle has a payload of 2.3 tonnes and an operating range of about 800 km.

Sources in the Kalyani Group said Bharat Forge has been able to carry out indigenisation of nearly 95 per cent of the vehicles, with only 5 per cent being imported from outside.

While its Pune plant has the capacity to build 40 vehicles per year, the firm plans to ramp it up to 100 soon, not limited to just the M4s.

(Edited by Zinnia Ray Chaudhuri)

Also read: Tanks will win you battles. Just don’t leave them alone like Russians did in Ukraine


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