It’s L&T for Light Tank!

-Bhagavan Hindustani

Putting all the speculations to rest, “We now can confirm, its L&T with CVRDE that will make the light tank for Indian Army”. Larsen & Toubro has cleared the Techno-commercial Evaluation stage for the development of assembly test chassis and its related subsystems. As per the RFI released by the Indian Army:

The Ministry of Defence, Government of India, intends to procure a new generation Combat Vehicle Platform, approximately 350 Light Tanks in a phased manner, along with Performance Based Logistics, niche Technologies, Engineering Support Package, and other Maintenance and Training requirements. The Light Tank is planned to be procured under the ‘Make-in-India’ ethos and spirit of the Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) – 2020.

The Indian Army RFI

Light tanks are actually not new to the battle field. These mean little machines which are on “diet” actually seen the action for the first time in WW I. They were quiet famous around the world with all the major armed forces as these can be rapidly moved in and out of combat zones, and they can easily out run their heavier peers. These tanks are easier to manufacture and are easy on logistics too. Main functions of these light tanks were reconnaissance, screening, and supplementing the ground forces. The first light tank was actually designed by Renault; yes you heard it right “Renault” which makes cars like Triber and Kwid. The light tank was actually named as “FT” and more than 3700 units were produced and mostly were made in 1918. 

Renault FT being used by US Army

After the war, major powers around the world have started to recognise the importance of light tanks and started developing them. The British later designed a series of light tanks named “Carden Lloyd tankettes” of which the Mk VI became one of the most successful light tanks of all time as it was license built by many countries and was the one which was built in significant numbers. Another design form named Vickers-Armstrong offered a 6 ton tank to British forces though it was later rejected. This actually became the basis of the famous Soviet T-26. Later Italian company Fiat, which currently makes cars like Jeep Compass designed and manufactured “Fiat M11/39” which actually became the basis of Polish 7TP.

By the time the WW II has begun, all the major forces around the world consisted of light tanks. Germans had their Panzer I, French with their Renault R35, Italians with their L3/35 British with their Mk VI, Japanese with their Type-95, Soviets with their T-26 and Americans with their M2. The canon sizes of the tanks ranges for 20 mm oh Panzers to 37 mm of the Japanese Type-95.

Post WW II, this small, light and mean machines continued to be built by major forces around the world and even saw action in Vietnam War. As these tanks offer high mobility advantage, Indian too is very keen on acquiring these light tanks so that these can be fielded against China near LAC amid current tensions with the PLA.

In the last quarter of 2021, reports emerged that India has conducted field trails of a Russian light tank named Sprut which is an 18-ton monster in Ladakh and uses the same ammunition and rifle as the T-90 which India currently operates. This is a very significant development as the tank is still under development and India gained access to these tanks even before production. These kind of Light tanks offer massive advantage to the Indian armed forces as they offer high mobility as mentioned above and are easy to deploy and that too in huge numbers.

DRDO Light Tank

As expected, when the need emerged for armed forces, the premier defense research lab jumped on to the task and actually floated a tender to fulfill the need of the armed forces. A recent bid was spotted for the supply of night sights and other apparatus for the tank with a delivery period of two years. Below tables show the specifications and requirements to be met by the vendor in order to secure the contract for supplying the night vision and other apparatus to DRDO to be used on the Light tank.

An excerpt of requirements
An excerpt of requirements

Now it is known that Larsen & Toubro has cleared the Techno-commercial Evaluation stage for the development of assembly test chassis and its related sub-systems. It will be interesting to see if L&T will develop the chassis of the tank from ground up or uses the chassis of the K-9 thunder which they manufacture here in India. As of now, all these are mere speculations and only time will tell what L&T will do.

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