Representational image. A file photo of light Sprut-SDM1 tank in Moscow. | Photo: Commons
Representational image. A file photo of light Sprut-SDM1 tank in Moscow. | Photo: Commons
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New Delhi: Russia has offered India its 18-tonne Sprut SDM1 lightweight tanks for possible procurement amid the ongoing stand-off with China in eastern Ladakh, ThePrint has learnt.

Sources in the defence and security establishment said the offer for Spruts, capable of being airlifted, was made during Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to Russia in June.

The move came as India has deployed heavy T-90 tanks, weighing about 46 tonnes, in Ladakh, besides T-72 tanks, which weigh around 45 tonnes and were deployed earlier.

China, meanwhile, has deployed its new lightweight tanks, Type 15, which weigh around 33 tonnes.

Lightweight tanks allow faster mobility in mountainous terrain than regular battle tanks that weigh over 40 tonnes.

During Rajnath Singh’s visit, New Delhi and Moscow prepared a list of items that could be bought and sold in wake of the tensions at the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The lightweight tank didn’t feature in India’s demands but was part of the Russian offer, said the sources.

However, some sources said the technical discussions are ongoing between the Indian embassy in Moscow and Russian authorities. Under technical discussions, both sides talked about the technical aspects of the weapons system to understand its capabilities and limitations.

But defence sources maintained that no emergency procurement is planned for these light weight tanks currently.


Also read: Kashmir sees jump in terrorist encounters ahead of Article 370 removal anniversary


The interest in lightweight tanks

The need for light weight tanks has been noted in the past too, but the Army’s interest in it comes in the wake of tensions with China.

In 2009, the Army had issued a Request for Information (RFI) for 200 wheeled and 100 tracked light weight tanks for the new Mountain Divisions that was then being raised.

Now, the government-run Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is reportedly working on lightweight tanks. Reports suggest the DRDO is in talks with private company Larsen & Toubro for converting the K9 ‘Vajra’ 155 mm self-propelled howitzer into a 35-tonne light weight tank.

According to the planned DRDO design, the K9’s 155/52 mm howitzer will be replaced by a modular turret and 105 mm gun made by Belgian firm John Cockerel Defence SA. The gun is capable of firing at 42-degree elevation, which would be helpful in a mountain warfare scenario.

If the project fructifies, the L&T’s production line of Vajra would be used to produce these tanks. The production line in Surat is set to go idle by the end of this year when the 100th Vajra is delivered under the contract.

In the past, India had lightweight tanks that were used during the 1947-48 Kashmir operations and then the 1962 and 1971 wars. However, these later paved the way for heavier tanks.


Also read: India’s Rafale lands in Ambala, Rajnath warns those who threaten territorial integrity


 

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7 Comments Share Your Views

7 COMMENTS

  1. This shows the intensions and extremist as well as hawkish policies of PM Modi that could cause severe threats for the security of Pakistan. Indian government’s policies and actions show undiplomatic behaviour that mostly aims at threatening Pakistan. A professor at the University of Delhi, Apoorvanand, said that “Modi is taking India on the course of demagoguery, and this is all it has to offer the people”.

  2. India’s overwhelming purchase of latest weaponry, as well as indigenization of defence equipment, have repercussions on South Asian stability. At the moment, India and Pakistan have virtually frozen their bilateral relationship where confidence-building measures have taken a back seat. India, under Modi government, has followed a policy of coercion particularly against Pakistan which shares territorial conflict with former. The influx of latest weapons in India, during such a volatile environment, will further add to Pakistan’s security concerns.

  3. Watch the debates between 6-7 in the TV, More than 1 shouting simultaneously out of terms, the answers are not brief, no full stop, a real mismanagement with 75 % of time wasted. Now transfer this in the real life, india is late always. Every Indian knows the solution they do not apply.

  4. I trongly value quality and quetiononing journalism as also free,honest and unbiased reporting which you lack in your way of reporting if I am not wrong.Please do not be anti govt ant fabricating story teller.

  5. Every thing we doing increasingly is linked to vote bank politics and optics ! If such emergency purchases catch eyes of voters of upcoming state elections (which ever state that maybe in any point of time) , that the govt is “doing” something about it, is enough to serve the purpose of the ruling dispensation.

  6. 73 years ago,in 1947, our Army found how useful light tanks were in Kargil . After that no lessons were learnt. Neither the Army,MoD or politicians made any plans to design our own light tanks and went on a spree to design only MBT s. They neglected mountain warfare and airlifting of tanks , even after we achieved all this in 1947. With such lack of strategic insight and advance planning , no wonder we are the laughing stock of the defence community everywhere.

  7. We can not have a situation where every time we have enemy on our border, we start emergency purchases of weapons which our enemy has but we do not have a counter for them! This happened time and again – after Kargil, Balakot and now after Galwan incident. This shows we are seriously lacking in effective planning. We plan big ticket purchases of the best items in the world, waste a lot of time in finalizing the procurement, only to find our budgets are not adequate, so we cut corners and leave out critical ones out and then that gap is exploited by our enemy! If Army decided not have light weight tanks before, it should manage with the existing ones and should not rush for emergency purchases. This makes no sense and it will be money going down the drain. If DRDO can improvise on K-9 Vajra and deliver the required capacity, it is fine else Army should manage itself. Similarly, Army should not go for binge import of snow tents from Europe now but procure them from within the country and manage better with existing resources.

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