The Indian Defense Ministry has signed a Rs 1,056-crore contract with Mahindra Defence Systems Ltd (MDSL) for the supply of 1,300 Light Specialist Vehicles (LSVs) to the Army. The induction of vehicles is planned to be completed in four years.
According to a statement from the ministry, “The LSV is a modern fighting vehicle and will be authorized to various fighting units for the carriage of medium machine guns, automatic grenade launchers as well as anti-tank guided missiles.”
The vehicle is indigenously designed and developed by MDSL. These combat vehicles are extremely agile with all-round protection against small arms fire and will assist small independent detachments which are required to operate this weapon platform in the operational area, the statement adds.
The step is another push by the Narendra Modi government towards self-reliance in defense production, in sync with the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ and ‘Make in India’ initiatives.
According to Mahindra Defence, the Armoured Light Specialist Vehicle (ALSV) is a key product, designed and developed by the company within just 24 months.
“The vehicle has successfully passed rigorous trials conducted by the Indian Army in multiple terrains, operating successfully in temperatures ranging from a scorching 45°C in the Thar Desert to a freezing -15°C in the Himalayas. The vehicle provides a high degree of ballistics protection and excellent maneuverability over rugged terrain.”
The Mahindra LSV is a light armored specialist vehicle built for use by military and defense forces. It’s designed to be a modular type vehicle allowing for efficient maintenance and it can be upgraded or configured in the field for a wide variety of operational roles.
— SP Shukla (@Prakashukla) March 22, 2021
The vehicle provides protected mobility for the front, side, and rear as per STANAG Level I Ballistics and Blast for four crewmembers with a battle load having ample stowage space for arms and ammunition inside the crew compartment and an additional 400 kg of cargo load-carrying capacity. It can also be upgraded to STANAG – II Ballistics.
What makes the armored vehicle stand out is its powerful 3.2 Lts, 215 HP multi-fuel diesel engine with 4/6 Speed Automatic Transmission, 4X4 with front and rear differential locks, 1,000 Kgs payload capacity, self-recovery winch, and high travel all-wheel independent suspension with central type inflation system.
The LSV can also cruise at a maximum speed of 120 kmph, with an acceleration of 0 to 60 kmph in 12 seconds. The vehicle is capable of going 50 km run-flat system on all five wheels.
As the armed forces in India expand the scope of their operations across the country, the need for personnel protection vehicles is growing. Such vehicles are crucial for the paramilitary and army engaged in offensive roles, patrolling, intelligence gathering, battlefield reconnaissance, and weapon deployment missions.
The estimated requirement of such light armored vehicles for the army is projected at around 4000, with about 1500 light bullet-proof vehicles and 4500 light specialist vehicles. The LSVs are employed by the Indian Army, CRPF, NSG, Marcos, Border Security Forces, and various commando units.
Just last month, the Army ordered an emergency procurement of M4 armored vehicles, worth Rs 177.95, to bolster its inventory. The vehicle was tested in Ladakh during the standoff with China and is manufactured by the Pune-based defense company Bharat Forge of the Kalyani group. Although the procurement order is small, the army expects to increase the number of such armored vehicles in the near future.
The Kalyani M4 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 IED threats. M4’s ballistic and blast protection from up to 50 kg TNT side blast makes it a unique choice for operations in conflict zones.
The vehicle is capable of withstanding the IED or roadside bombs, thanks to its design, built on a flat-floor monocoque hull. The thrust speed of 140 km per hour and the vehicle’s ability to carry a payload of 2.3 tons gives the forces a unique advantage in maneuvering inhospitable situations.
Modeled on Paramount’s Mbombe 4 armored vehicle, which has seen international success in a number of markets, M4 boasts of next-generation design, advanced technologies, and the highest levels of protection.
The Indian armed forces already use a wide variety of armored vehicles for anti-terror operations in J&K and Naxal areas in multiple states, besides the border patrols. To respond to various contingencies with enhanced maneuverability, survivability, and combat, specialist combat vehicles play a crucial role in the armed forces to neutralize threats quickly.
Some of the prominent armored vehicles include the Renault Sherpa, Mahindra Marksman, Viper, Tata Merlin LSV, Mahindra Armoured MEVA Straton Plus, and other LSV models in use with the Indian armed forces.
The Growing Demand
Due to their unique operational versatility, the demand for light armored vehicles is only expected to grow with changing security scenario in India. The scope of integration of various weapon stations and communication facilities for command control aboard such vehicles lend them crucial value within the armed forces.
They are also deployed for multipurpose activities like recce operations, border patrol, and quick attacks, and ergonomics.
The demand for such vehicles has pushed many firms to innovate and set up R&Ds and ink JVs with foreign defense companies. The private sector is expected to ramp up its armored vehicle offerings to meet the growing requirements of armed forces, with many big players like Mahindra, Tata, Kalyani, and Ashok Leyland already in the fray.