Army has purchased over 35,000 Gypsy vehicles

The Maruti Suzuki Gypsy may not look as imposing as an Arjun tank or an advanced light helicopter, but it has remained an integral part of the Indian Army's operations.

The humble Gypsy is an important troop transport for the Indian Army and operations given its capability to mount weapons such as recoilless rifles. The Indian Army ordered its first Gypsy 4x4 vehicles in 1991; subsequent orders have taken the Gypsy fleet in olive green to over 35,000 vehicles.

But moves to replace the Gypsy have begun.

Last week, a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council, chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, accorded acceptance of necessity for the purchase of nearly 5,000 GS (general service) 4x4 vehicles for Rs 760 crore, which would replace the Gypsy. Acceptance of necessity is the first step to initiate procurement of new systems for the military.

The number of vehicles cleared in the DAC meeting would form the first tranche of deliveries, with additional vehicles expected to be brought in phases.

The Print reported earlier this week “Sources in the defence and security establishment said a Request for Proposal (RFP) is set to be placed in the coming months seeking new 4×4 vehicles with soft-top that will replace the over 35,000 Gypsy cars in service in a phased manner.”

The Print reported the proposed Gypsy replacement would also be a soft-top 4x4 vehicle that can be “used in plains, deserts and rugged terrain like the mountains”. The publication added there was a possibility the contract could be split between the two lowest bidders if both vehicles cleared trials.

In the past decade, the Indian Army selected the Tata Safari Storme as a replacement for the Gypsy. As many as 3,192 Safari Stormes were ordered, but the larger Tata product was less versatile than the Gypsy. The Safari Storme weighs around 1,800kg, nearly twice the weight of the Gypsy, which hinders its utility in tough terrain. The Safari Storme has been used primarily as a means of transport for senior officers than in operational roles.