INDIA TO BUY LIGHT STRIKE VEHICLES WORTH $2 BILLION
By Bulbul Singh
20 Oct 07. The Indian army is to purchase over 10,000 light strike/military vehicles over the next five to seven years valued at over $2bn, and the majority of these will be produced by private defence companies in collaboration with overseas defence companies.
These vehicles will be purchased in phases and a global tender is expected to buy nearly 1000 vehicles by the end of the current financial year said sources in the Indian defence forces. Earlier, the Ministry of defence floated a tender in 2005 for the purchase of light armored vehicles but the tender is being re-bid again added the sources.
The requirements of the Indian Army include four wheel drive; high power-to-weight ratio vehicles and capable of travelling at up to 80kms per hour and carry weapons and GPS systems. Currently the Indian Army is using around 2,000 Russian BMP-1 and BMP-2 multipurpose armored vehicles, equipped with antitank missiles and other weapons. The state owned Ordnance Factory at Jabalpur produced the Jonga light vehicle which finished in 1998. The Indian Ordnance Factory Board which is managing the 39 state-owned ordnance factories, including the Jabalpur factory is now on a global hunt for a tie up with an overseas major to produce a one and a half tone vehicle.
The front leader is the Mumbai-based Mahindra Defence Systems which has ambitious plans to compete in this segment of the defence market. A senior executive of Mahindra Defense Systems system they are planning to be number one in India in producing light strike vehicles for the Indian Army.
Besides, the private sector Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland is in the race for competing in the light vehicles market for the Indian army. Sources in the automobile industry said, Land Rover is also negotiating with severalIndian private sector companies including EicherMotors to tie up for producing light strike vehicles for the Indian Army.
The executive of Mahindra Defense System said they have already land outside New Delhi to make specialized vehicles for the Indian defence forces including the Mahindra Axe version with a tie up for the engine with a South Korean company revealed the executive but refused to give details.
The Indian defence ministry is also on a global hunt for procurement of 2000 new engines for the Indian Army’s infantry combat vehicles BMP-2/2k procured from Russia. This is part of the upgrade program of BMP-2.
The current BMP-2 is fitted with Russian UTD-20 engine, which has been indigenised and is locally manufactured by the engine factory, Avadi.
The new engine should be able to generate 350 to 380 horsepower in object condition, easy to maintain and have long life. The new engine should be able to operate up to an ambient temperature of –30 degree Celsius to+ 55 degree Celsius. The engine life should not be below 600 hours or 2250 kilometers and it should be able to operate in all types of terrain and weather conditions. Its weight should be less than 900 kilograms.
It is interesting to note that two of the bidders for Land Rover, Tata and Mahindra and Mahindra are front runners for this requirement. Land Rover has told BATTLESPACE that the company is in discussions with a number of Indian bidders.