- Under Project Zorawar, light tanks will be made that weigh less than 25 tonnes and have a high power-to-weight ratio. They will also have better firepower and more protection.
- During the standoff in Ladakh, China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) used a mix of medium and light tanks, including the brand-new Type-15, which is a third-generation tank.
The Indian government is about to start a project called “Project Zorawar” to build 354 light tanks. This will give the Indian Army a huge boost in its ability to fight China and Pakistan in the Himalayas.
There was a snag in the mega project because the Indian Army and the Defence Research and Development Organisation didn’t agree on something (DRDO).
Officials told TOI that the defence ministry has solved the problem between the Indian Army and the DRDO, making it possible for “Project Zorawar” to get off the ground.
The Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) will make 59 of the 354 light tanks. The rest will be made by a government-funded design and development project in the “Make-1” category of the Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP).
The grant of AoN (acceptance of necessity) for Project Zorawar, which is expected to cost Rs 17,500 crore, will be handled by the Defence Acquisitions Council.
“The DRDO can also go up against private companies in this area,”
Tussle between Indian Army, DRDO
Even though the DRDO’s Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE) and the private sector’s Larsen & Toubro were already working on a light tank prototype, the Indian Army wanted all 354 tanks to be made by the private sector under the Make-1 category.
“The DRDO says the first prototype of its light tank will be ready by the middle of 2023. So, it was decided that DRDO would get 59 tanks, but only if it could show that it could make a good prototype before the others,” the official said.
What is a light tank?
Light tanks are supposed to be easier to move around than regular tanks, and they are often used in mountain warfare.
Under Project Zorawar, light tanks will be made that weigh less than 25 tonnes and have a high power-to-weight ratio. They will also have better firepower and more protection.
Where will Indian Army deploy light tanks?
The Indian Army will use these light tanks mostly against China in the Himalayas. The Indian Army had known for a while that it needed light tanks. But when there was a military standoff with China in Ladakh, it became clear how important they were.
When the Ladakh standoff began in 2020, the Indian Army was using the T-90S and T-72 main battle tanks, both of which were made in Russia. But these tanks, which each weigh between 40 and 50 tonnes, did not work at their best at such high altitudes.
“The T-90S and T-72 are made for operations in plains and deserts, so they don’t work as well between 11,000 and almost 17,000 feet in altitude. Because of this, there is a need for more manoeuvrable and flexible light tanks that can be used in mountainous areas, an official said.
During the standoff in Ladakh, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) used a mix of medium and light tanks, including the brand-new Type-15, which is a third-generation tank.