In a recent bid to acquire (Field Artillery Tractor) FAT trucks to tow 155 mm artillery guns, the Government of India has recently issued a Request for Information (RFI) for 6×6 high mobility trucks. The Ministry of Defense (MoD) intended to procure Gun Towing Vehicle (GTV) /FAT trucks from probable Indian vendors who can deliver the trucks with a minimum of 50% Indian content. Let’s take a look at the specifications of the truck first and then move on to the probable contenders for this RFI.
FAT Truck Specifications
The trucks should be able to tow the 155 mm guns in different terrains such as plains, mountains, high altitude areas, semi-deserts, and deserts along with eastern, western, and northern borders. The trucks should have a rated payload of 8,000 kilos including the crane. The trucks should meet the bridge classification of class 24 when fully loaded with operational load and ammunition without the gun in tow. The truck should also have a towing capacity of up to 20 tons. The point to be noted here is the payload and towing capacity are quite different from each other. Payload capacity is the weight that the truck can carry in its cargo area and towing capacity means the weight the truck can tow via a towing hook attached at the back of the truck.
The truck should be able to tow a maximum weight of 20 tons with a payload of 8,000 kilos in its cargo area. The truck should come with a diesel engine that can generate adequate power and should be able to meet the emission standards up to an altitude of 2,500 m and with or without modifications up to 5,500 m. The truck should also be able to accommodate an ammunition-carrying crane with either hydraulic or electric drive with a minimum capacity of 2 tons. The crane should be able to lift the load to a height of a minimum of 4 m above the base. Its outreach capacity should be a minimum of 700 kilos at a reach of 2.8 meters. It should be able to unload the ammunition pallets from them directly into the gun pit.
The braking system should be able to hold the truck with a full payload and gun in tow with a safety device. It also should have a twin circuit brake system with a facility for twin airline connections for towing guns. Hand brake should also be able to hold the truck with full payload and a towed gun at all slopes and terrains.
As we had a look at the most important specifications of the truck, let’s take a look at the prospective competitors for this particular RFI.
Tata 2038 6×6 truck
Tata LPTA won the contract from armed forces to supply 1239 trucks in March 2015 and according to the company, the deal was the largest order to an Indian private OEM in land systems back then. This truck comes with a diesel engine which can generate a maximum power of 375 bhp and a maximum torque of 1550 NM. The Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) of the truck is 23,000 kilos with a payload rating of 8,500 kilos. The material handling crane is hydraulically operated and has an outreach payload capability of 700 kilos @ 9 meters, which is actually better than the 2.8 meters in the RFI. This truck was even spotted towing a 155 mm howitzer in Kashmir probably being tested by Tata Motors.
Ashok Leyland FAT 6×6
Ashok Leyland basically developed this truck from the ground up for replacing the age-old Scania SBATT111S fleet of the Indian army which were used to tow artillery guns previously. So naturally, this truck adheres to most of the specifications and requirements of the RFI. This truck has a payload of 8,000 kilos, which is slightly less than the Tata counterpart, and comes with a diesel engine that can generate a maximum of 360 bhp and 1400 NM of torque which are slightly less than the Tata truck. This truck comes fitted with a 2.7-ton crane in the cargo bay for loading and unloading ammunition. In 2016, Ashok Leyland won the order for the supply of 450 FAT 6×6 trucks for the Indian army.
BEML TATRA T815 6×6
BEML 6×6 is nothing but a license-produced version of the TATRA 6×6 truck in India. This truck has a payload capacity of 10,500 kilos and a towing capacity of 65,000 kilos on public roads and on different terrains; it can tow a maximum of 16,000 kilos. This comes with a diesel engine which can produce a power of 342 bhp. This truck is also available in other variants such as FAT, ammunition loader, and MRV.
All these trucks can fulfill the Indian army requirements for the towing truck. It will be interesting to see who will win the bid. With the recent news about the acquisition of new 155 mm gun systems, the Indian army is in dire need of towing trucks to tow these heavy artillery guns and deploy them in western and northern borders as soon and as efficiently as possible.
As the trucks will be capable of towing the 155 MM towed howitzer with a weight of 20 Tonnes in any terrain. The indigenously developed Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) with a weight of 18 tonnes can be towed by these Field Artillery Tractors (FAT) easily in any terrain. As per the field artillery rationalization plan, Army aims to acquire 1,580 towed gun systems, 814 mounted gun systems, 100 self-propelled Howitzers and 145 M777 155mm/39 caliber lightweight Howitzers for the mountains. Thus army needs FAT in good numbers for both towed guns and ULHs.