TATA Group – a name which needs no introduction to Indians. Tata group is a conglomerate based in Mumbai, India with a market cap of over 175 billion USD as of 2019. Tata group has always remained and will remain the pride for Indians. The story of Tata group inspired millions across India including me. Though there are a lot of groups and conglomerates in India apart from Tata group, their philanthropic ideas have set them apart. This actually made Tata group establish some of India’s premier institutes and hospitals such as IISC Bangalore and Tata cancer research institute. It has always been “Nation First” for Tata group.
One of the crown jewels of Tata group is Tata motors and today we will take a look into how Tata motors has been serving the armed forces with their technology and innovation. Established in 1945 as “Tata Engineering and Locomotive” shortly known as TELCO, Tata motors started with manufacturing locomotives. Their first entry into manufacturing commercial vehicles came in 1954 after a JV with Mercedes-Benz. From then on Tata motors gradually graduated into making commercial vehicles, passenger vehicles and defence vehicles for armed forces.
Tata motors offer different platforms to the Indian armed forces for different purposes. Tata motors just like other Indian manufacturers have state-of-the art research, design and testing centres for designing and developing platforms for armed forces. Tata motors have different products in different categories and we will take a look at the offerings of Tata motors category wise.
1) Logistic platforms
2) Defence aid and development platforms
3) Armoured platforms
4) Combat support platforms
5) Combat vehicles
Tata motors offer different LPTA (Long Platform Truck All wheel drive) variants of its regular commercial vehicles for different purposes. Let’s take a look into the platforms offered and their technical specifications as well.
Since logistic platform and Defence aid & development platform are numerous in number those will be covered in another article.
3) Armoured Platforms
Tata offers three platforms for troop carrying with armour. These include
1) Armoured safari
2) Mine protected vehicle
3) Light armoured troop carrier
3.1) Armoured Safari
Safari is an SUV which needs no introduction. Safari was the first ever SUV that was designed and built entirely in India. It is completely an Indian SUV. Though initial variants of safari sourced their engine from Sierra which is in turn sourced from Tata 407, the later iterations of safari, the 3.0 dicor was developed in house by Tata motors with technical assistance from AVL, Austria. Later on, Tata started using the Peugeot’s 2.2l VARICOR engine. The current gen safari has the 2.2l engine. This engine produces 140 ps of power and 320 NM of torque. This safari comes with all round NIJ level 3 protection, anti-explosive Kevlar carpet and run flat tyres. This can be customized additionally according to the use.
Tata Safari armoured version
Point to be noted is that Tata motors supply the latest version of safari in BS6 avatar for armed forces which produces 156 ps of power and 400 NM of torque which is not armoured and it was designed to meet GS800 (General specification 800) of the Indian army, which is different from the armoured version.
3.2) Mine protected vehicle
Tata motors also offer state-of-the art mine protected vehicle to the armed forces. This mine protected vehicle comes with V shaped hull for blast protection, comes with NIJ level 3 protections all around, spacious interiors, air conditioning, 10 gun firing points and is powered by 240 bhp and 925 NM of torque. This vehicle can carry 13 members along with a driver and this can achieve a top speed of 80 kmph. Just like safari, this can be customized according to the customer’s specifications.
Mine protected vehicle
Gun firing points
V shaped hull
3.3) Light Armoured troop carrier
The Light armoured troop carrier is based on Tata 713 and is designed by DRDO. This vehicle is manufactured by JCBL armouring ltd. This vehicle also comes with NIJ level 3 protections and CEN level BR6 armouring. This vehicle is powered by a 155 bhp engine which produces 590 NM of torque. This vehicle can carry 9 personnel apart from driver. This vehicle also comes with air conditioning, run flat tyres and other creature comforts.
4) Combat support platforms
Tata motors offer a lot of platforms under his category.
4.1) Tata Xenon Recce 4×4
This offering is based on the regular Tata xenon pickup truck that is available for commercial use in India and other countries. This platform is also powered by the same 140 ps 2.2l engine which is used in Tata safari albeit in a different state of tune. This can bring commonality with other platforms such as safari as same engine and transmission system is used in both platforms. Features of this vehicle include a 360 degree revolving LMG turret, 20 litres of jerry cans which are mounted outside the roll cage, capacity to accommodate 6 troops including the driver, convoy lamps and heavy duty leaf spring suspension.
Tata xenon, a variant different from the one listed here actually won the US army contract in Afghanistan for supplying GS800 specific Xenons in 2015.
Xenon recce 4×4
4.2) LPTA 2036 6×6
LPTA 2036 is one of the most capable 6×6 platforms used by the Indian army currently. Tata motors won the largest order of 1239 vehicles from Indian army in 2015. Again in 2016 Tata motors received an additional order for 619 vehicles in 2016. This is largest order awarded to an Indian private OEM till date. This platform can be used as a tractor for carrying weapon locating radars, can be used as fire engines, can be used to tow artillery guns etc. This platform is highly capable and versatile. This truck has multiple applications some of which are listed below.
1) MBRL vehicle
2) LRSAM vehicle
3) SRSAM vehicle
4) LLQRM vehicle
This truck is powered by highly capable Cummins 6-cylinder diesel engine that produces 375 bhp and 1550 Nm of torque.
6×6 combat support towing a 155 mm gun
4.3) LPTA 3138 8X8
Another capable platform offered by Tata is the LPTA 8×8 3138. This platform is powered by a Cummins ISLe 370 engine producing 370 bhp and 1550 Nm of torque. This platform has steerable real axles which is a needed feature in tough terrains. This platform can also be used to mount different weapon systems, radars and to carry troops. This platform has a high grade ability of 40 degrees and a water evading depth of 1.4m.
LPTA 8×8 carrying a radar system
4.4) LPTA 10×10
Though not much details and specifications are available about this platform, this platform can be a replacement for the Tatra trucks that are being used by Indian army in huge numbers. This platform can be used for carrying missile launchers etc.
10×10 platform undergoing testing
4.5) LPTA 12×12
LPTA 12×12 is the most capable and the most powerful platforms of all the trucks produced and offered by Tata motors to the Indian army. This platform is intended to carry various missiles launchers including Brahmos, Nirbhay and Agni series of missiles. This truck is powered by a turbo charged 525 bhp Cummins engine producing 2000 NM of torque which is massive. This platform can replace the Tatra trucks of Indian army for carrying Brahmos missile launchers as Tatra trucks have some limitations in terms of flexibility. As we all know Tatra was blacklisted in the wake of bribery case, these high performances indigenous trucks can be used to replace the foreign origin trucks Indian army has been using till now.
12×12 carrying a missile launcher
Akash SAM mounted on a Tata platform
5) Combat Vehicles
Tata motors offer wide range of combat vehicles for armed forces.
5.1) Light Support Vehicle (LSuV)
This is the latest and under development (speculated) platform from Tata motors. This platform is powered by a 3.3l engine producing 186.5 bhp and 450 Nm of torque. This vehicle has STANAG 4569 Level-1 protection for side and rear ends, run flat tyres with CTIS (Central Tyre Inflation System) and a self-recovering winch. This platform also has a turret for a 7.62 mm MMG, 40 mm AGL and ATGM.
CAD model of LSuV
5.2) FICV (Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicle)
This platform can be used to replace the Old Russian BMP-2 platforms of Indian army. This platform has protection for STANAG Level iv and above, CBRN protection, and Laser warning system. This platform also comes with ultra-advanced indigenous electronics and communication systems along with night vision capabilities. This vehicle can also be transported via C-17, IL-76 by road and or by rail. This platform is also fully amphibious capable with a top speed of 10kmph.
This platform can be made lethal by mounting an ATGM launcher. This also comes equipped with smoke grenade launcher, MMG, Automatic grenade launcher, main gun and anti-tank capabilities. This platform can carry up to 12 members. This platform is very capable and can be a perfect replacement for BMPs with the Indian army.
CAD model of FICV
5.3) Wheeled Armored Amphibious Platform (WHAP)
Also called as Kestrel, this platform is being developed jointly by Tata motors and DRDO. This is also the first indigenously made wheeled armoured amphibious platform according to Tata motors. This platform can carry up to 12 passengers and comes powered by a 600 bhp diesel engine (though lower powered (450 bhp) variants of this engine can also be ordered) with a maximum speed of 100 kmph on road and 10kmph in water. This platform is modular an quiet versatile and can be converted into 16 different variants.
The armor of this vehicle is made up of composites and welded steel. This is an 8×8 platform and is highly capable in any kind of terrain. This vehicle is already under tests by Indian army in high altitudes and floating conditions. The standard turret comes with a Kongsberg protector MCT-30R, a 30 mm auto cannon and a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun. The remote weapon station can be equipped with a 12.7 mm heavy machine gun. According to reports, the vehicle can also be integrated with a 40 mm automatic grenade launcher and 2 ATGM launchers can be mounted too.
Indian army testing WHAP in high altitude conditions
5.4) Light armored multi role vehicle
This is a 4×4 platform is made specifically for the RFP of Indian army. This platform has a protection level of STANAG 2. The protection level varies from front to the rear. The hull is V shaped to protect it from IED blasts. The whole platform is again modular and easily serviceable. The passenger cabin can be tilted to the side in case of servicing. A lot of variants can be added over the base model of the vehicle. Though not many details about the engine and transmission are available, it can be speculated that the low powered 450 bhp variant of the WHAP engine will be used in this vehicle as well.
LAMV being inspected by army in def expo
It can be seen that Tata motors is offering a wide range of platforms some developed from ground up indigenously just for armed forces and some based on their civilian platforms so that the armed forces can fight for us with optimum protection and efficiency. Apart from these vehicle platforms, Tata even made India’s first ever 155mm howitzer gun. Tata was the first private firm to achieve this record. Tata motors have also been exporting various platforms to different countries across the world. Recently, Tata motors won the contract to supply its trucks to Thai army and hexa, which is a seven seater MPV to the Bangladesh armed forces by winning over Isuzu and Toyota respectively. It is indeed “Nation first” for Tata motors.