Binny Winson

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Ashok Leyland is aims expand from the traditional trucks to armored vehicles business. Photo: Binny Winson, Defense Updateoffer armored vehicles

The Indian Army has a fleet of more than 150,000 vehicles. The services buy around 7,000 new trucks every year, a volume attracting commercial vehicle manufacturers to invest in meeting peculiar military standards. This year at DefExpo 2012, traditional truck manufacturers Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland were joined by the new competitor Asia Motor Works, each taking aim at specific segments of this huge market.

Almost half of these trucks are the old model Stallion workhorses built by Ashok Leyland, the company is now offering the stronger Super Stallion 6×6 truck. Other opportunities are with the smaller tactical trucks and special purpose vehicles. AMW is displaying At DefExpo some of their specialty trucks, including firefighting trucks and 6X4 Heavy Duty Recovery Vehicles. AMW is positioned as India’s third largest manufacturer of heavy commercial vehicles. AMW is manufacturing its vehicles at their plant in Bhuj in Gujarat. Anirudh Bhuwalka, Managing Director and CEO of AMW said his company has entered this market offering a portfolio of vehicles range from 4X4 general service and logistics trucks, offered with engines ranging from 180 bhp to 270 bhp.

The TATA MPV displayed at DefExpo 2012. Photo: Binny Winson, Defense Update

Tata Motors is displaying here a range of military vehicles. “The launch of our new combat & tactical vehicles and equipment, leveraged from our strength in design and development of a wide range of commercial vehicles, now enables us to cover the entire defense mobility spectrum.” Said P. M. Telang, Managing Director – India Operations, Tata Motors. According to Telang, the company’s defense solutions already cover the complete range of logistics and armord vehicles that have also been popular in supporting the police and paramilitary forces in counter insurgency operations. The company launched four new military platforms – a specialized 12×12 Prahaar Missile Carrier, a light armored vehicle, a ‘Mobile Bunker’ and the Tata 6×6 7kI refueler. The Indian Armed Forces are currently looking at procuring a four-wheel drive, high mobility platform, for use as a general-purpose vehicle. Tata is positioning the Safari Storme GS 800 in standard and armored configurations to meet this requirement.

At the exhibition Tata Motors displayed scaled models of its concept Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) to be designed in tracked and wheeled configurations. Tata Motors is one of the four Indian companies, which has been issued the Expression of Interest (EoI) by the Indian Army, for the FICV – a ‘Make Indian’ project. Tata Motors has accordingly responded to the EoI based on indigenous design and development in association with key technology partners and submitted their response in October 2010.

Tata’s 12×12 missile carrier is an indigenous high mobility, all-terrain and all-wheel drive, based on the LPTA 5252-12 X12 vehicle
developed specifically for missile launcher carrier applications, in close coordination with the Indian Defense Research & Development Organization (DRDO). The platform can be integrated with different missiles, including the Prahar, BrahMos and Nirbhay missiles. The vehicle is equipped with a state of the art Electronic Controlled heavy duty engine and automatic transmission, has high mobility features like Anti-Locking Braking System (ABS), Central Tyre Inflation System (CTIS), Auxiliary Gear box with High and low speed mode and differential locks system. The vehicle is operable normally in 12×8 mode and can be driven in 12×10 and 12×12 modes as per terrain requirements. Tata Motors has also developed an indigenous high mobility, all-terrain and all-wheel drive designated LPTA 3138. This 8×8 vehicle is specifically designed for various all terrain application like command and control shelter carrier, missile launcher and carrier, mobile radar station etc.

Among the armored and mine protected vehicles developed to secure India’s paramilitary and military forces, the new ‘Mobile Bunker’ was introduced here. This robust vehicle is designed on the LPA 713 four wheel drive platform, to ensure fast and safe movement of troops in Naxal infested states and to act as a platform for retaliatory action. The Mobile Bunker offers protection against gunfire, corresponding to ballistic protection of NIJ Level III. As a mobile platform it can be used as a base for various protected applications like troop carriers, ambulances and buses. Tata’s Mine Protected Vehicles (MPV) also offering ballistic protection of NIJ Level III.

Ashok Leyland is also entering the armored vehicles segment, under a cooperation with foreign companies from germany and France. A year ago, at the IDEX defense show, Ashok Leyland signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the German Krauss Mafaeii Wegman (KMW), for the development and support of of KMW produced vehicles throughout India and South-East Asian markets. The Indian company plans to build armored trucks based on chassis supplied by KMW. SOme of the models on display here had a striking resemblance to the Dingo, but such a cooperation has not been confirmed. Ashok Leyland is also negotiating a similar MoU with the French company Panhard, which is expected to be signed soon. The PVP, a light armored vehicle developed under a Franco-German cooperation was displayed at Ashok Leyland.

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The centerpiece of the Russian display at Defexpo 2012 is undoubtedly the T-90MS upgrade program developed by the Russian Uralvagonzavod corporation. The T-90MS upgrade was unveiled August 2011 at Nizhny Tagil, Russia following the demise of the T-95 program. It is making its international debut here in New Delhi. India is likely to be the most interested in the the Russian upgrade, put forward by Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport as a possible upgrade path for the Indian ‘Brishna’ (T-90S) tanks.

India is the largest operator of the T-90S, along with Russia. The Indian Army has fielded about 450 of these tanks, with 300 more on order. Other T-90 operators are Azerbaijan, Cyprus (45) and Venezuela (92). Earlier in 2012 it was announced that Algeria has bought 120 of these tanks.Additional 30 were acquired by Turkmenistan. These small deliveries could be the result of the collapse of the Libyan order, which was never fulfilled.

The Indian Army had planned to equip its 59 armored regiments with 1,657 T-90S main battle tanks, 1,000 of which were to be Indian-made. However, production and import of T-90S tanks has been slow, hence, the opportunity to improve the T-90 through the manufacturing line, maintaining the T-90 effectiveness for upcoming years. The T-90MS offers improvements in every important element – protection, mobility and firepower, in addition to improving sustainability and reliability while reducing operating cost. Since the contract was signed back in 2001 the Indian Heavy Vehicle Factory (HVF) in Avadi, Chennai has assembled only 150 T-90S (of a thousand planned). Implementing the T-90MS package will enable future production series to deliver better, more capable main battle tanks instead of gradually obsoleting platforms.

The proposed tank upgrades include improved automotive components, enhanced protection by reactive, passive and countermeasure systems improving the tank’s protection against guided missiles; the firepower enhancements rely on comprehensive modernization of the turret systems, including a new automatic fire control system, stabilized day/night sights and auto-tracking capability, and the use of the 2A46-M5 improved 125mm gun offering better accuracy and reliability, compared to existing 125mm guns. It also has a remotely controlled 7.62mm machine gun.

Automotive improvements include the high efficiency V-92S2F diesel engine and automatic transmission and steering wheel control linkage. The upgrade kit includes attachments for a new type of add-on protection armor, including turret and hull frontal and side reactive panels and slat armor grills protecting the exhaust, filters and sprockets. An aramid liner is also employed to reduce internal damage from splinters and flux in case a penetration occurs.

The T-90MS commanders' new independent panoramic sight is coupled with the UDP T05BV-1 elevated, remotely controlled weapon station mounting a 7.62mm machinegun.

The tank uses early warning threat sensors and countermeasure to protect the tank over 360 degrees. The system relies on two types of detectors, offering coarse threat detection over 270 degrees (sides and rear of the turret), employing instant multi-spectral smoke screen, while the fine threat detectors are employed over the turret’s frontal 90 degree arc, driving electro-optical countermeasures.

The T-90MS Kalina fire control system comprises improved fire control computing modules and modern, stabilized optronics.

Another feature contributing to the T-90MS survivability is the separation of ammunition from the fighting compartment. Part of the ammunition is stowed in special compartments separated from the turret by a blast door. The ammunition is manually loaded into the magazines, from where they are automatically served by the autoloader.

The ‘Kalina’ optronics system features three new EO devices – the gunner’s sight has a two-axis stabilized field of view, integrating multiple optical channels including a dual mode (day/night) CCD and thermal channels, a laser rangefinder (LRF) and another laser channel supporting missile guidance. The EO system is coupled with a video processing system, performing automatic target tracking to improve moving target engagement. The commander position is equipped with a new independent panoramic sight featuring two-axis field of view stabilization integrating the daylight, thermal and LRF channels. The panoramic sight also provides target acquisition and control for a new, remotely operated weapon mounted on top. A backup parallel sight fixed on the cannon line of sight and optional peripheral video surveillance system covering 360 degrees of the tank’s perimeter. The optical muzzle reference unit further augments the weapon’s accuracy.

T-90MS offers an upgrade path for the Russian T-90 tank offering a balanced improvement in firepower, mobility and protection.

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With India planning to invest over US$80 billion in defense procurement in upcoming years, the majority of the spending – 65-70 percent will be directed to imports. “We have to reverse this trend.” Shri A.K, Antony, Indian Defense Minister, said, “Our aim is to have a strong defense industrial base in India, because a country like India cannot indefinitely depend on foreign suppliers for majority of our equipment.” While support for Defense Public Sector Units (DPSU) continues, the government realizes the public sector will not be able to transform the industrial base on its own. A point in case is the Indian Navy procurement, for which Antony outlined a new strategy. “We are formulating a new policy, where both public sector shipyards will have to compete with the Indian private shipyards to get projects for the Indian Navy.” Antony explained, adding that in future, the Indian navy will be from ‘Buy Indian, Make Indian’, where public sector ad private sector shipyards compete on naval shipbuilding rather than Indian shipbuilders competing against foreign suppliers. According to Antony, ‘Buy Indian and Make Indian’ is going to be the major component of our procurement policy.

Offsets were introduced with the Defense Procurement Procedure (DPP) of 2005, requiring manufacturers in the category of ‘Buy’ and ‘Make and Buy’ for acquisitions over and above Rs. 300 crore, (US$60 million) to invest 30 per cent of the estimated cost in indigenous defense industries.

Three years later, the government further tightened its offset demands, reflected in DPP 2008, that restricted foreign procurement of locally produced goods related only to defense and aerospace products as applicable for offset investments. These requirements encountered increasing objection among foreign suppliers, raising concern within the administration, about the validity of the entire system, since the local market could not produce enough goods to fulfill the huge offset requirements derived from the growing defense imports.

DPP 2011 introduced significant changes in this offsets policy, making civil aviation, internal security and training products and services eligible for defense offsets. In 2012 commercial shipbuilding is expected to be added to the approved industries eligible for offset transactions. Moreover, it has also relaxed insistence on foreign direct investment (FDI) only in domestic defense industries. It also recognized offsets accrued by through investment into defense JVs set up in India; or through investment into Indian R&D organizations. Against these relaxed rules, India is expected to increase the level of offset to 40 or most major acquisitions and even 60 percent on certain acquisitions such as shipbuilding, where Indian suppliers are well positioned to act as major subcontractors.

Additional concessions are also being evaluated, including the recognition of technology transfer and introducing ‘offset multipliers’ for investments in priority fields, including investments in small and medium enterprises (SME).

The new offset policy provides more opportunities for foreign enterprises doing business in India while preventing cash outflows by mandating foreign firms that bag major defense contracts in India to reinvest a part of the total contract value, by entering into local tie-ups in the local defense industry, developing local human resources and skills, technology and infrastructure. The new DPP includes training services or equipment like simulators that were not part of the previous DPP. This change is significant with India embarking on large-scale acquisition, including the 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft, military jet and helicopter trainers and tank upgrading programs, where simulators are becoming an important component.

The Minister of State for Defence Dr. M Pallam Raju has stated that the scope and potential of the Indian defense industry has significantly increased due to reforms in the Defense Offset Policy. Dr. Pallam Raju has announced that the Indian defense offsets contracts worth US$3.3 billion have been signed and more such deals worth $10 billion are in the pipeline.

The policy change is likely to give a huge fillip to these two sectors as investments worth billions of dollars are expected to be made in view of the large number of offsets deals to be signed in the near future as India looks to spend over $ 80 billion for defense acquisitions.

The introduction of the “Buy and Make (Indian)” category in the defense acquisition process aims to increase participation by the Indian Industry for meeting India’s requirements for state-of-the-art defense systems and platforms. The procedure will enable Indian defense sector firms to get into tie-ups with technology providers through the mode of technology transfer and joint ventures.

According to defense industry analysts, India’s private sector in aerospace and defense sector needs to become more effective and may currently lack the scope and scale. However, entering into foreign collaboration will result in greater innovation. The defense offsets policy is a powerful tool to ensure that large purchases from foreign vendors are matched by investments domestically, thereby enabling the private sector to boost its capabilities. It also charts out innovative ways of doing business, leading to partnerships and joint development plan. The defense offset policy aims to enable the Indian defense sector to build long-term capability.

In view of above policy changes, it is imperative for Indian companies from Defense sector to engage with Indian PSU as well as international firms interested to invest in India.

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