Saturday, July 31, 2021

Why India Desperately Needs The Russian ‘Aquatic Tank Killer’ – The Sprut Against China?

With the increasing tensions at the India-China border at Ladakh, the deployment of VT-4 light tanks by the PLA has taken everyone’s attention, and eyes are now up to the Indian Army- that it might just be the time to have one of theirs.

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While the DRDO has been given a green light to move forward with their own version of the light tank, the Indian Army would also lookup for foreign vendors to fill this void – and one of the primary candidates is the Russian ‘Sprut-SD’ light tank.

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Armed with a 125mm gun, this ‘light tank’ is capable of destroying enemy heavy armor, having the firepower commonality with the T-72, T-90, and the newest T-14 Armata tanks.

This also translates to be a logistical boon – as the same munitions would be used by these tanks. It is an amphibious tank-destroyer, much like its western counterpart Stryker Mobile Gun System, but having a bigger gun.

File:Army2016demo-020.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
Sprut Tank – Wikimedia Commons

Sprut is currently in service with the Russian airborne units. It’s a legacy to the wide array of Soviet-era mechanized formations which include some of the most used ICVs like the BMP and BTR family. Its close relative, the BMP-3, has a 100mm cannon.

The vehicle weighs around 18 tonnes, which is about half as the Chinese counterpart, the VT-5, which sports a 105mm gun. Being lighter and carrying more firepower, the Sprut could enjoy a considerable advantage in the field, working in tandem with the Indian Army’s highly upgraded T-72 “Combat Improved Ajeya” tanks as well as the T-90s.

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All of these three tanks sport the same munitions as mentioned above, and the higher protection cover provided just like the heavier main battle tanks.

This would be reminiscent of the tactics developed during the World War 2 when specific tank destroyer variants (and Anti-Tank Artillery) would move in formations along with the main armour, and provide a credible firepower addition that would render the enemy’s mechanized formations vulnerable.

Considering the VT-5’s lighter armour and its lesser firepower, Sprut might have an edge on the battlefield.

One of the major advantages of the Ruskie light tank is its amphibious capability, a feature that can be seen with most of the Russian infantry combat vehicles. This gives the combat engineers a sigh of relief, as these amphibious vehicles are unstoppable by water-obstructions like Rivers or other smaller water channels.

Working with the main armor, these vehicles could either continue the advance or secure a bridgehead, or the area at the opposite bank, while giving the engineers a safe and secure time to deal with bridge-laying operations.

The Sprut gun is also equipped with an autoloader, which ensures the high rate of fire of 6−8 rounds per minute with both conventional projectiles and rounds with guided missiles.

In addition, the fire control system features stabilization of the elevation and azimuth and also includes a laser rangefinder and a ballistic computer that provides ever-changing data about the target. The two-plane stabilization of the commander’s sight is aligned with the laser sight for aiming the 125 mm shells onto the laser rangefinder.

The tank could be a potent contender for the Indian Army’s light tank requirements and provides adequate firepower and mobility along with the much-needed interoperability with its related armored vehicles like the T-90 and T-72 which form the backbone of the country’s armored formations.

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