- Beijing has put the most recent ZTL-11 wheeled armoured personnel carriers, CSK series assault vehicles, and ZTQ 15 (Type 15) third-generation modern light tanks along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh.
- The missile can travel up to 5,000m and has a tandem HEAT (High Explosive Anti-Tank) warhead that can destroy armoured or reactive armoured tanks (ERA).
The Modi government said on March 3, 2022, that the Indian Army would be getting light tanks. This was done as part of the 2020 Defense Procurement Procedure’s Make-I category (DPP). India’s search for a light tank may soon be over. L&T has announced that it is a partner in the “Zorawar Program,” which aims to build light tanks for the Indian Army. According to Ashish Dangwal of The Eurasian Times, the first prototype is expected to be shown in late 2023.
The Indian Army has been looking for a light tank for a long time. Recently, they started Project Zorawar, which roughly means “Project Powerful.” Its goal is to make light tanks in India that can be used in high-altitude areas. The Indian Army wants a light tank that can’t weigh more than 25 tonnes and has the same firepower as its other tanks. Ashish Dangwal reports that the military also wants them to have weapons that can stay in place, artificial intelligence (AI), tactical drone integration for surveillance to give them a better idea of what’s going on, and an active defence system.
Jayant D. Patil, L&T’s senior executive vice-president for defence, told Janes on September 16 that the company has been chosen as a development partner for the homegrown light tanks. Ashish Dangwal said that L&T is working on the development of the platform, but that the company is not guaranteed a role in making the tank. Patil said that the Indian process didn’t allow for development and manufacturing contracts to be combined. “Developed equipment has to go through field evaluation trials and come out successful for the induction clearance,” he said. “Then the process of ordering production begins.”
Ashish Dangwal says that Patil didn’t say much about how L&T was involved in the project. But the company is working on the project with the state-owned organisation: “We [DRDO and L&T] plan to show a prototype by the end of 2023,” the source said. The Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE) of the DRDO is in charge of the project.
As is well known, the Indian Army wants light tanks to fight China in places like Ladakh that are high up. After the border war with China in the summer of 2020, India at first thought about buying the Russian light tank Sprut SDM1, but the idea was scrapped.
Ashish Dangwal reports that in April 2021, the Directorate General of Mechanized Forces sent out an RFI for 350 light tanks that weigh less than 25 tonnes. But the country has decided to make its own light tanks instead of buying them from other places. But the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine has disrupted the world supply chain for defense-related parts, making it harder for India to make tanks and keep them in good shape. India needs to make its own light tank because of this.
Lt Col JS Sodhi (Retd) of the Indian Army told the EurAsian Times, “Light tanks can greatly improve the Indian Army’s ability to fight in the High Altitude Areas (HAA) because they can be made to fit the existing infrastructure, such as bridges and roads, and they will be very manoeuvrable, giving the Indian Army a better fighting edge.”
The T-90S Bhishma and T-72M1 Ajeya tanks are made in Russia and weigh about 46 tonnes each. The Indian main battle tank, Arjun Mk.1A, weighs about 68.5 tonnes. These tanks are not made for places with a high altitude. China, on the other hand, has a lot of modern tanks that are used in battle as a mix of medium and light tanks with high power-to-weight ratios.
In the last two years, Beijing has put the most recent ZTL-11 wheeled armoured personnel carriers, CSK series assault vehicles, and ZTQ 15 (Type 15) third-generation modern light tanks along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh.
VT5, the Chinese ‘adversary’ of India’s future light tank
The Chinese army calls the VT5 the Type 15 or ZTQ-15. It is a lightweight battle tank made by the Chinese defence company NORINCO (China North Industries Corporation). In November 2016, the VT5 was shown to the public for the first time at the Zhuhai AirShow China.
The VT5’s main weapon is a 105 mm rifled gun with a thermal sleeve and a fume extractor. This gun can fire up to 3,000 m away. The main weapon also has a system that loads itself. The VT5 carried a total of 38 rounds of 105mm ammunition. This included Armor-Piercing Fin-Stabilized Discarding Sabot (APFSDS), High-Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT), High Explosive (HE), and gun-launched anti-tank guided missile. The missile can travel up to 5,000m and has a tandem HEAT (High Explosive Anti-Tank) warhead that can destroy armoured or reactive armoured tanks (ERA).
The hull and turret of the VT5 are made of steel armour that is all welded together. This protects it from small arms fire and shell fragments. Advanced composite armour and/or explosive reactive armour can be added to the VT5 to make it safer (ERA).
The VT5 is powered by a 1,000-horsepower electronically-controlled diesel engine at the back of the hull. This engine is connected to a hydro-mechanical full-automatic transmission that can turn on a pivot and has a cooling system. It can go up to 70 km/h on the road and 35–40 km/h off-road, and it can travel up to 450 km at a steady speed.