Atmanirbhar Bharat: Light weight tanks for the Indian Army will roll out next year, says DRDO Chief

In 2023, Indian Army will soon have Light Weight Tanks which have been made in India in collaboration with Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Larsen & Toubro (L&T). The making of the Light Weight Tank comes under Make-I, or “government funded” project category.

In an exclusive conversation with Financial Express Online in New Delhi, Secretary, Department of Defence R&D and Chairman DRDO Dr G Satheesh Reddy said, “Work on the Light Weight Tank is going on in full swing. By 2023 the tank will be fully ready for production.”

The DRDO has been doing R&D for the Light Weight Tank and has a tie-up with L&T. Once the project is completed and the Indian Army formally places orders, the production will be done by the L&T.

The DRDO chief told Financial Express Online “We are involving the Indian industry as Development cum Production Partners (DcPP). A lot of projects are being developed along with the industry.”

And this will help in supporting the fast growing Indian defence industrial ecosystem which is needed in the country’s journey towards Atmanirbhar Bharat in Defence.

Has the Indian Army placed any order for the Light Tanks?

According to sources no specific order has been placed by the Indian Army for these tanks.

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had notified a list of items which will be produced locally here in India, in line with the “Atmanirbhar Bharat’’ initiative of the government. The idea behind the third positive list introduced recently was to also encourage the Indian Armed Forces to buy the equipment, and other platforms that have been manufactured here in India.

Financial Express Online had reported earlier that the third positive list was built on the 101 items in the first one and 108 items in the second. The first and second lists were promulgated in 2020 and 2021 respectively.

Light Weight Tank along with other big platforms like Mounted Artillery Gun System 155mm/ 52 Cal; 7.62mm x 54 (Sniper) Ammunition; See Through Armour; Armoured Recovery Vehicle (ARV) for MBT Arjun; are part of the third positive list.

In March this year, a decision was taken under the Make-I category of the 2020 Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) for developing Light Weight tanks for the Indian Army.

The decision was taken against the backdrop of the conversion of the tracked 155 Howitzer K-9 Vajra mobile a into a 35-tonne light weight tank. These light weight tanks are ideal to be used for mountain warfare and will be deployed along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) where the need for these tanks was felt during the ongoing stand-off with China.

The need for Light tanks

Following the standoff between the armies of India and China along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh, the need for Light Weight Tanks was felt in that terrain. Since the Indian Army does not have Light Tanks it has deployed heavier tanks like the T-72 weighing 45 tons and T-90 which weighs around 46 tons.

Last year in April the Indian Army had issued a Request For Information (RFI) for procuring around 350 light tanks with a weight of less than 25 tonnes to be deployed in High Altitude Areas (HAA).

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