The Indian Army (IA) has invited responses from overseas and domestic vendors by 18 June to a request for information (RFI) regarding its planned procurement of 350 locally manufactured ‘light tanks’ for deployment in assorted terrain. The development comes in the backdrop of the stand-off in Eastern Ladakh where the need for a light tank was felt for deployment in High Altitude Areas (HAA). These 25-tonne tanks, if and when procured, would form nearly six regiments in the Indian Army.
The main armament should feature a multiple, modular and upgradable weapon system with capability to destroy and offer countermeasures to varied threats. It should also feature multiple weapons for anti-aircraft and ground role with different calibre assisted with remote control weapon station. For ammunition, the tank should employ modern advance multipurpose ‘smart munitions’ with gun tube launched anti-tank guided missile. The tank should have auxiliary power unit, preheater, environment control unit and anti drone capability, UAV jammers, net enabled.
One potential option could be a proposal from a South Korean company based on its K21-105 tank. Hanwha Defense says the vehicle has a 105mm turret mounted on a K21 infantry fighting vehicle chassis. The Indian Army is also in talks with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which is working with private firm L&T to convert the K9 Vajra into a light tank that could come handy in high altitude areas. The K9 Vajra is built by L&T with technology transfer from South Korean defence major Hanwha Defense, and is based on its K9 Thunder.