India’s Ministry of Defense has initiated the process of acquiring light battle tanks which can be easily air-lifted to the mountainous ranges near the border with China.
The Indian Army has been asked to formulate requirements for a light tank weighing up to 25 ton.
This development can be viewed in the light of the recent trial of 35-ton Xinqingtan light tank by China in the Tibetan Plateau. It is also an addition to the preparation being made by the Indian Army for acquiring fourth-generation warfare capability.
“There are two problems for transportation and operation of tanks on the China border. Firstly the road classification, that is load bearing capacity of the road infrastructure, is poor thus preventing deployment of heavier tanks (T-72, Arjun and T-90); secondly, the space available for exploitation is also limited to certain pockets,” Rahul Bhonsle, a retired brigadier, and Delhi-based defense analyst told to Sputnik.
During the 73-day Doklam stand-off with India where more than 12,000 PLA troops, 150 tanks, and artillery guns were reportedly involved, Beijing had displayed its capability to move tanks quickly near the Indian border. This has forced Indian military to revive its eight-year-old plan which was shelved in 2009 after detailed deliberation on technical requirement.
The proposed light tanks will be capable of operating at heights of more than 3000 meters of Himalayan terrain, according to an official of Indian defense ministry.
“A light tank preferably should be 20-25 tons but also have the necessary armored protection and firepower capability to be of operational utility,” Bhonsle explained.
India’s state-owned Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) had been developing a light tank. If the project is taken forward, India would be manufacturing light tanks based on the indigenous technology.
However, if the Indian Army sends in an urgent request, such tanks are likely to be purchased from Russia as India has already exhibited interest in Russia’s 2S25M Sprut-SDM that is based on a chassis using the technology of BMD-4M and has fire control elements of the T-90MS main battle tank.