Army launches Project Zorawar for Light Tanks

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With the increased threat on the northern borders which is likely to continue in the foreseeable future, the Indian Army has launched Project Zorawar for Light Tanks to overcome the limitations faced by medium battle tanks and equip the forces for all contingencies in high altitude areas.

“Presently, in-principle approval has been accorded to the Project and the Indigenous Defence Industry is being engaged with to achieve a fructification of the project in an earliest time frame,” sources in the defence establishment told UNI.

We will approach the Defence Ministry for Acceptance of Necessity by next month for this Project, a source dealing with Project said.

The current threat scenario and that contours of the likely future wars have thrown up new challenges for which the Indian Army has to be prepared, he added.

Security source said the equipment profile of tanks in Indian Army need to have the versatility and flexibility of medium and light platforms.

“The Indigenous Indian Light Tank aptly named Zorawar, designed to operate in varying terrain from High Altitude Area, the marginal terrain to the Island territories, will be highly transportable for rapid deployment to meet any operational situation,” a source dealing with the Project said.

Zorawar will have niche technologies to include Artificial Intelligence, Drone integration, Active Protection System and High Degree of Situational Awareness, he said.

The Indian Light Tank is required to address sector specific operational requirements, especially in high altitude region and in marginal terrain. It will be ‘state of art’ and will pave way for indigenous development of other important platforms.

The recent experiences along the northern borders have shown that armour equipment profile is one of the most prominent factors in defining operational capability of the land forces.

The adversaries have inducted a large number of technological modern, ‘state of art’ tanks employed operationally as a mix of medium and light tanks with high Power to Weight ratios, sources said.

The lightweight agile platform with a high Power to Weight ratio with substantial firepower, protection, surveillance and communication capabilities is essential to provide the Indian Army the versatility to execute operations in varying terrain against diverse threat and equipment profile of the adversaries, they added.

An official in the know-how of the Project said that Armoured Fighting Vehicle Indian Light Tank (AFV-ILT) offering capability for multiple employment options along with niche technologies is an operational imperative.

The Defence Ministry intends to procure the Indian Light Tank with Engineering Support Package and other Maintenance and Training requirements to cater for Indian Army’s requirement of Light Tanks.

Following recent developments on the northern borders, the Indian Army had to induct a considerable number of T-72 and T-90 tanks in operational areas, gaining tactical surprise over the adversary and thereby forcing the adversary on a back foot. However, these tanks were primarily designed for operations in plains and desert terrain have their own limitations when employed in High Altitude Areas.

They face a similar handicap when employed in marginal terrain of Rann of Kutch.

The adversity which the world supply chain has experienced in the defence related component supply due to the Russia-Ukraine war, has impacted both manufacturing and sustenance of the foreign fleet of tanks that India is presently holding- which is why it is essential to design develop the Light Tank indigenously.

The Indian Army has the experience of successfully employing Light Tanks as Force Multipliers in all previous battle engagements in the past like Stuart Tanks of 254 Indian Tank Brigade in Battle of Kohima in World War II, at Naushera, Jhangar, Rajauri and most successfully at Zojila in the Indo-Pak war 1947-48, AMX-13 tanks at Chushul and Bomdila in 1962, AMX-13 tanks at Chammb in 1965 and the amphibious PT-76 light tanks in 1971 with the PT-76 tanks leading the race to Dacca.

The AMX-13 and PT-76 tanks were phased out in the 1980s, where after the focus of Indian Army shifted primarily to the Western Borders resulting in the conversion of PT-76 units to T-72 profile.

The requirement of a Light Tank capability which had proved to be a battle winning factor in mountainous and riverine terrain in the past in Indian Army had been projected on numerous occasions since 1982, a source working for Project Zorawar said.

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