Keeping in mind the ongoing tension with China in Eastern Ladakh, the Army has ordered more M4 armoured vehicles from Pune-based defence company Bharat Forge of the Kalyani Group. Indian Army is also looking at the possibility of increasing calibre of the 7.62 mm gun on board to a 20 mm one with an automatic turret.
Sources in the defence establishment said some of these vehicles are now being integrated with the state-of-the-art Israeli Spike anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) since the Chinese have deployed heavy armour in the mountains.
According to recent reports published by The Print, the Kalyani Group has already delivered about 60 of these vehicles to the Army, including a batch of 30 for the UN Peacekeeping Force.
Sources said while the initial order for these vehicles in February last year was for less than 30, additional orders were soon placed.
They didn’t divulge the exact numbers but said the orders were being completed in batches with modifications depending on how they were performing under the Northern Command.
Besides the ATGM, the Army is also looking at the possibility of increasing the calibre of the 7.62 mm gun on board to a 20 mm one with an automatic turret.
The Army is in need of wheeled armoured vehicles that can transport troops faster and are capable of operating in high-altitude regions.
The M4, a product of the South African defence major Paramount Group, is a multi-role platform designed to meet the requirements of the armed forces for quick mobility in rough terrain and in areas affected by mine and improvised explosive device (IED) threats.
It has ballistic and blast protection against TNT side blasts of up to 50 kg, IEDs and roadside bombs due to its design built on a flat-floor monocoque hull. With a thrust speed of 140 km per hour, the vehicle has a payload of 2.3 tonnes and an operating range of about 800 km, as reported earlier.
The automatic transmission-enabled vehicle can carry 10 soldiers including the driver and has a cooling and heating system, making it ideal for both deserts and high altitudes.
Sources in the Kalyani Group said Bharat Forge has been able to carry out indigenisation of nearly 95 percent of the vehicles, with only 5 per cent being imported from outside.
While its plant in Pune currently has the capacity to build 40 vehicles per year, the firm plans to ramp it up to 100 soon, added the sources.