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Indian Army desirous of missile-armed wheeled AFVs

Source : Shephard Media

Indian Army desirous of missile-armed wheeled AFVs
The WhAP from Tata Advanced Systems Limited must be considered a strong contender to carry ATGMs for a new Indian Army requirement.

The Indian Army issued a tender notification for a wheeled armoured fighting vehicle that will be armed with anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) on 5 July.

With an acceptance of necessity document already having been issued, responses indicating interest from domestic industry are due by 2 August. After this, an RfP will presumably be issued to contenders.

Solutions must be domestically designed and built, with at least 50% local content. Field evaluation trials are to occur within three years of the actual RfP issuance.

A month earlier, on 6 June, the Defence Acquisition Council had approved the procurement of such an ATGM-armed AFV, along with other equipment such as rough-terrain forklifts, armoured vehicle-launched bridges and weapon locating radars.

The most obvious candidate for the ATGM platform is Tata Motors’ 8x8 WhAP (Wheeled Armoured Platform), also known as the Kestrel.

At Chennai Defence Expo 2021, Tata exhibited a WhAP fitted with a Kongsberg RWS mounted atop its regular turret, but the army likely needs something more like the Nag Missile Carrier (NAMICA).

The NAMICA has been integrated onto a BMP-2 chassis, but this would be the first time for it to be fitted onto a wheeled platform. The NAMICA features six ready-to-fire Nag missiles.

No mention has been made of the number of vehicles the Indian Army needs, but Indian media are speculating it could be 200 units. They would likely be deployed along the mountainous border with China.

Earlier this year, the Indian Army inducted a batch of 8x8 WhAPs, which the military is calling the Infantry Protected Mobility Vehicle (IPMV). Tata Advanced Systems Limited will provide ongoing logistics and maintenance support for these vehicles.

In other missile news, the Indian MoD announced that a domestically developed ATGM was successfully fired ‘with textbook precision’ from the 120mm main gun of an Arjun MBT on 28 June. 

‘With the trial, the ATGM’s capability to engage targets from minimum to maximum range has been established,’ the government noted.

This test by the Indian Army and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) was designed to evaluate the missile’s ability to engage targets at minimum range. Other tests in September-October 2020 had already assessed longer-range firings at 3km and 5km.

The tests are taking place at KK Range near Ahmednagar in western India. The missile has a tandem high-explosive anti-tank warhead.

The quest to field an Indian ATGM launched from a gun barrel is an ongoing saga. India could have easily gone for the IAI LAHAT for the Arjun, which it tested back in 2004, but it has instead opted for a local weapon that has been years in development.

The army adopted the Russian Invar missile, produced under licence by Bharat Dynamics Limited, for firing from the 125mm gun barrels of Indian T-72s and T-90s.

In one final piece of news, on 5 July, the Indian Army issued an RfP for image intensification night sights with a minimum 4x magnification for 7.62mm assault rifles.

The army wants 29,762 night sights, including a lens cover, eye guard, cleaning kit, battery pack charger and three sets of batteries. The sights must be capable of detecting targets at 600m at night, and recognising them at 500m.

The image intensification tubes, with a minimum figure of merit of 1,700, must be indigenous with minimum industry content of 30%. Bids for these night sights are due to be submitted by 27 September.

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