DRDO, in collaboration with Larsen & Toubro, has unveiled the "Zorawar" light tank, designed for high-altitude operations and equipped with advanced weaponry and protection systems, marking a significant step in India's military modernization efforts

Intending to propel the indigenization and modernization efforts of the Indian armed forces, the state-owned Defence Research & Development Organization unveiled the “Zorawar” Light Tank on Saturday at its facility in Hazira, Gujarat.

The Light Tank has been designed as a public-private venture where DRDO collaborated with Larsen & Toubro (L&T) to design and develop the 25-ton vehicle, and under record time of 2 years.

The Indian military forces felt the need for such light tank platforms in high-altitude regions during the Galwan Valley standoff with Chinese military forces, as they carry effective firepower while operating suitably in such terrains with great mobility. Furthermore, the platform is a response to Chinese Type 15 Light Tanks which were deployed against Indian Army installations in Ladakh during the standoff.

With the project associated with the learnings from the Indo-China standoff in Ladakh, the tank carries the name “Zorawar” as a tribute to General Zorawar Singh, the renowned General of Dogra Dynasty of Jammu, who led many successful conquests in Ladakh and Baltistan, giving him the title of “Napoleon of India” and “Conqueror of Ladakh”.

The prototype Light Tank is powered by a 750 HP Cummins Engine, which will eventually be replaced by the domestically developed engine in future units. For protection, it has composite modular armour which focuses on disables the effectiveness of any incoming projectile to great extent by absorbing the kinetic energy and blast in the first layers of the armour and preventing penetration which could damage the tank.

It is equipped with a sophisticated 105mm rifled cannon-fitted turret designed by Belgium-based firm John Cockerill. The turret can be seen flaunting various advanced systems, like Paseo Electro-Optical cameras from French company SAFRAN, a Remote-Controlled Weapon system (RCWS) from Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), multiple situational awareness cameras, launchers for 2x Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs) and Smoke Launchers.

The tank will also be integrated with more systems as development progresses, including Laser Warning receivers (LWRs), Active Protection System (APS), Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems (C-UAS) and more, making it an effective solution to fulfil Indian military requirements, looking for over 350 light tanks under Buy Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured) category.

The tank will undergo multiple trials in the next 12 to 18 months with a projected timeline of development completion said to be 2027, after which it will be ready for induction and deployment in desired areas of operations, especially high-altitude zones of Ladakh, Sikkim or Kashmir. The tank is also amphibious and can cross rivers, canals and other water bodies.

The Indian Army currently operates three different types of tanks, Russian T-90 “Bhisma” and T-72 “Ajeya”, and indigenously developed “Arjun”, all of which are main battle tanks and have their limitations in high altitude regions. Therefore, a Light Tank was felt necessary to enhance efficiency and capability. In the past, the Indian Army operated Russia-made PT-76 Light Tanks which also served during the 1971 Indo-Pak war.

Earlier, DRDO had planned to develop a Light tank based on the BMP-2 chassis, an infantry combat vehicle in service with the Indian Armed Forces since the 80s, and also in licensed production by Ordnance Factory Medak. However, the project didn’t receive the green light for production.

(With Agency Inputs)