To counter Chinese tanks, India moves more tanks to border

More light tanks are to be deployed in high altitude areas to counter the Chinese deployment of similar armored columns along the LAC

Indian Army fast-tracks purchase of ‘Zorawar’ light tank for LAC to tackle China

To counter China’s muscle flexing in the border areas of Ladakh and the increased threat from China along the Real control line (LAC) likely to remain for the “foreseeable future”, the Indian Army has launched Zorawar Project deploy locally manufactured light tanks to high altitude areas. Tank induction will allow Indian forces to counter any threat posed by Chinese tanks deployed along the LAC in Ladakh and some other areas, senior officials in New Delhi said on Friday. Light tanks can be transported by air in inaccessible areas and allow local commanders to move quickly and bring agility to operations.

During the ongoing stalemate, the Chinese had introduced light tanks at various forward locations along the LAC last year, particularly in the Ladakh region. Against the movement, India deployed its T-90 and T-72 tanks. The T-90 weighs about 46 tons and the T-72 about 45 tons. Explaining the need for light tanks, the Indian side said that armored columns add muscle to readiness and the army is keen to have an advantage over China in both offensive and defensive terms.

The Indian Army is now pending authorization of the government and acceptance of necessity (AON) for the manufacture of these tanks weighing approximately 25 tons. The proposal will be put for the wink in September, they said. Once approved, testing of the tanks after manufacture will begin within three years, they said. In March of this year, the government had given approval in principle to the indigenous design and development of light tanks for mountain warfare.

The army wants a light tank with a maximum weight of 25 tons with the same firepower as its regular tanks and Artificial intelligence (IA) enabled systems, integration of tactical surveillance drones to provide a high degree of situational awareness and roving ammunition, as well as an active protection system. Tanks will also have a protective shield to counter anti-tank guided missiles.

Additionally, tanks will be amphibious to negotiate river terrain, including the Pangong Tso Lake in eastern Ladakh. The lake saw the first standoff in May 2020, sparking tensions along several others friction points in the region between India and China.

Regarding the title of the project, senior officials said that it was named after Zorawar Singh Kahluriaa military general who served under Jammu Raja Gulab Singh — known as the “conqueror of Ladakh”. A lightweight agile platform with a high power-to-weight ratio with substantial firepower, protection, surveillance, and communications capabilities is essential to provide the military with the versatility to execute operations in varied terrain against various adversary threat and equipment profiles, sources said.

The decision to manufacture light tanks in the country was also made after the Ukrainian conflict had an impact on the supply chain of defence-related equipment.

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