INDIA HAS URGENT REQUIREMENT TO BUY LIGHT TANKS
By Bulbul Singh
09 Oct 09. The Indian Army is purchasing 300 light tanks on an urgent
basis from the global market. Indian army officials say these tanks need to be deployed as soon as possible along the Indo-Chinese border. Request for Information(RFI) has been sent to half a dozen defence companies in Europe, Russia, Israel, and the USA.
The multi million dollar tender is for the purchase of 200 light tanks (wheeled) and 100 light tanks (tracked).
A defence ministry official said, “The urgency of the procurement
can be gauged from the fact that the global defence producers have been given only one month to file details of their tanks, the last date is October 30 this year. Thereafter, a formal tender is expected to be floated by the end of the year after the Qualitative Requirements are drawn based on the RFI submitted by the defence companies.
Defence ministry sources also said, “The Indian government rejected a proposal by the state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation(DRDO), that they can produce a light tank in India.
The Indian Army has demanded the purchase of 300 tanks on an urgent basis to be deployed along the higher reaches of the
Sino-Indian border and also along theIndo-Pakistani border.
The Indian defence ministry has tentatively drawn a plan to procure defence weaponry and equipment mainly to be deployed along the Sino-Indian border. Recently there have been reports of escalation in cross border firing along the Sino-Indian border.
“The light tanks would be air transported to the higher reaches. The light tanks to be procured would weight up to 25 tonnes and are light enough to be air transported.” said an Indian army official.
Currently, the Indian Army is using a Main Battle Tank which weighs around 40-45 tons and cannot be deployed in the mountainous region.
The purchase of light tanks comes as the procurement process to purchase 155mm/52 calibre Light howitzer guns has run into trouble as one of the bidders, Singapore Technologies has been implicated by India’s Central Bureau of Investigation in an alleged corruption case involving the state-owned Ordnance Factories Board. Indian government blacklisted seven domestic and overseas defence companies including Singapore Technologies and Israeli Military Industries (IMI)in June this year.
The Indian Army sent an SOS to the Indian defence ministry two years ago thatit was likely to face serious shortages of tanks in the future as its strength of over 3000 tanks will get depleted on account of scrapping due to age and obsolescence.
Around fifty per cent of the 3500 Indian Army tanks will be scrapped in the next five-to-seven years and the Indian Army has been requesting the Indian defence ministry to purchase additional tanks in fully formed structure to met the shortages estimated in the years ahead.
“More weapons and equipment will be deployed along the Sino-Indian border will be bought in the next two-to-three years on an urgent basis to strengthen India’s combat worthiness compared to China.” added the defence ministry official.