With no progress towards de-escalation with China in eastern Ladakh, the Indian Army has ordered more M4 armoured vehicles from Bharat Forge, an arm of the Kalyani Group, a new report says.
The new M4s will be equipped with Israeli Spike anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM). Integrating an ATGM will give these vehicles the capability to target Chinese tanks deployed along the Line of Actual Control.
The People's Liberation Army has deployed its 33-tonne ZTQ-15 (or Type 15) light tanks on the Tibetan Plateau.
The report adds that the vehicle may also get a 20 mm one with an automatic turret to replace the 7.62 mm one currently on board.
According to the report, around 60 M4s have already been delivered to the Army, including 30 for the UN Peacekeeping Force.
In February last year, the Army ordered M4s emergency procurement. Although the number of vehicles it ordered remains unknown, the Kalyani Group had revealed in a statement that it "received an order worth Rs 177.95 crores from the Ministry of Defence for supply of M4 vehicles".
These vehicles, the report adds, are being delivered to the Army in batches with modifications required for operations in high-altitude areas.
Kalyani's M4 is a license-built version of Mbombe 4 developed by South Africa's Paramount group. However, the Kalyani Group says that it has taken the level of indigenisation in the vehicle up to nearly 95 per cent.
The vehicle has been designed with an operational range of 800 kilometres. Powered by a 460 horsepower engine from US-based Cummins, the vehicle has a payload limit of 2.3 tonnes.
"The Kalyani M4 is a multi-role platform, designed to meet the specific requirements of armed forces for quick mobility in rough terrain and in areas affected by mine and IED threats," the Kalyani Group says.
The vehicle can carry an infantry section of ten soldiers in full combat gear. It has been designed to provide the crew and the infantry soldiers STANAG-3-rated protection in the battlefield.
The vehicle has ballistic and blast protection for up to 50kg TNT side blast. It is protected against IED/roadside bombs due to its "innovative design, built on a flat-floor monocoque hull."
M4 underwent extensive trials in Ladakh, which also falls under the Northern Command, before the Army placed the order for these vehicles under an emergency procurement amid the China-India border standoff. The vehicle has also completed desert trials in the Rann of Kutch.
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