Zorawar Light Tank: Revolutionizing Indian Light Tanks
India has Made the World’s lightest tank in the world named the “Zorawar Light Tank”.
In recent times, there has been a renewed emphasis on light tanks within the Indian Army, particularly driven by escalating security concerns in remote and challenging terrains, notably the 2020-2022 India-China skirmishes. The mountainous landscapes of Ladakh pose difficulties for operating main battle tanks like the T-72, T-90, Arjun Mk1, and Arjun Mk2, which are ill-suited for the harsh conditions.
Operational Challenges at High Altitudes
Operating military platforms like main battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles (IFV), and self-propelled artillery at high altitudes presents numerous challenges. These conventional vehicles often struggle with power generation in rarefied air and low oxygen levels, leading to logistical and operational hurdles. Similar issues were observed in historical conflicts such as the US invasion of Afghanistan, Operation Meghdoot, the India-Pakistan Siachen Conflict, the Kargil War, and the recent Galwan Conflict.
Light Tank Necessity Background
Deploying conventional platforms in extreme altitudes requires significant modifications and specialized fuel, further straining logistics. Even the K9 Vajra self-propelled howitzers, deployed in response to Chinese aggressions, needed specific modifications for optimal function at high altitudes. The introduction of the Chinese Type 15 tank in the Galwan Valley highlighted the need for a versatile and agile response from the Indian Army.
Development of the Zorawar Light Tank
Named after General Zorawar Singh Kahluria, who led the 1841 Military Expedition to Kailash Mansarovar during the Dogra-Tibetan War, the Light Tank project aims to address the challenges posed by extreme altitudes. Initially considering procurement from Russia, the Indian Army finalized the general staff quality requirements and plans to approach the Ministry of Defence for Acceptance of Necessity (AON) in September 2022. The ‘Make-I’ acquisition category under the Defense Acquisition Procedure (DAP)-2020 aligns with the ‘Make in India’ initiative. L&T confirmed as the development partner on 16 September 2022, is set to roll out the “mountain tank” (Zorawar Light Tank) by 2023, with reports suggesting the induction of approximately 700 units.
Innovative Design Features
The proposed light tank (Zorawar light tank) emphasizes being light and maneuverable without compromising firepower. Integration with artificial intelligence, swarm drones for enhanced situational awareness, loitering munitions for increased lethality, and an active protection system against modern anti-armor systems are envisioned.
Trial Progress and Production
As of 12 January 2024, the developmental trials of the Zorawar Light Tank have commenced. It is expected that prototypes will be handed over to the Army by April 2024. An initial order for 59 tanks has been placed, and Larsen and Toubro are tasked with their production.
Explore Bradley M2 Tank