These LSVs are capable of performing in extreme terrain, with maneuverability, high speed and stability, has the provision to mount a rocket launcher and machine guns, and can be airlifted and dropped into enemy territory, for use as an advance fast strike vehicle
|The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army|
It was reported in these columns two years ago that indigenous firm Force Motors had won the contract to supply Light Strike Vehicles (LSVs) for the Parachute (Special Forces) units of the Indian Army. Force Motors Limited is an Indian automotive manufacturer, the flagship company of the Dr. Abhay Firodia Group. From 1958 until 2005 the company was known as Bajaj Tempo Motors, because it originated as a joint venture between Bachraj Trading Ltd. and Germany's 'Tempo'. The company is known for its proven brands like the Tempo, Matador, Minidor and Traveller. It is India's largest van maker and is completely vertically integrated, making its own components for the entire product range. The vehicles Force Motors has provided to the CAPF are closed-type, which are bullet-proof to meet their requirements.
In winning the deal to supply LSVs to Army’s Special Forces in May 2018, Force Motors prototypes established their superiority in the rigorous user trials, conducted for over two years, in tough and rough terrains as varied as the scorching deserts of Rajasthan (50°C) to the freezing Himalayas (-30°C); designed for quick ingress and egress, these LSVs are capable of performing in extreme terrain, with maneuverability, high speed and stability, with 4x4 configuration, and have differential locks on all wheels; the LSV is equipped with run flat tyres and has the provision to mount a rocket launcher and machine guns, and; this LSV can be airlifted and dropped into enemy territory, for use as an advance fast strike vehicle.
The indigenously designed and developed Light Specialist Vehicle is a modern fighting vehicle that will be deployed with various fighting units for carriage and mounting of medium machine guns (MMGs), automatic grenade launchers (AGLs), and anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs)
These LSVs are the open version being provisioned in sand, black and OG colours. Their salient specifications and accessories include: 104 KW or 140 HP @ 3800 RPM BSIV; 321 NM @ 1600- 2400 RPM; power to weight ratio 30 KW per tonne; ground clearance 250mm; transmission 4 x 4 Diff locks in front and rear; run flat types Pirelli Scorpion, black out lamps; gun mounts/weapon mount, and; folding structure. These LSVs met the long standing requirements of our Special Forces, enhancing their mobility to strike deep inside enemy territory.
The Study on 'Modernisation of Special Forces' undertaken by Military Operations Directorate, Army Headquarters in 2002, included the provision of LSVs, aiming to provide mobility to the Assault Squads through a light vehicle that was transportable by fixed-wing aircraft/helicopter and air-dropped, for missions deep inside enemy territory. The LSV was to be capable of carrying and mounting an assortment of weapons that the Special Forces task force would need to carry for multiple missions. During 1971, 10 Parachute (Commando) using modified vehicles conducted multiple raids across the Thar desert 80 km inside Pakistan including the Pakistani Ranger Base at Chachro using modified vehicles.
Media reports of March 22, 2021 now state that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has firmed up and signed a contract worth Indian Rupees 1,056 crore ($146 million) with Mahindra Defence Systems Limited (MDSL) to supply 1,300 Light Specialist Vehicles for the Indian Army. These vehicles are to be inducted into the Army in a four year period. The indigenously designed and developed Light Specialist Vehicle by MDSL is a modern fighting vehicle that will be deployed with various fighting units for carriage and mounting of medium machine guns (MMGs), automatic grenade launchers (AGLs), and anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs). A statement released by the MoD said, “This is a flagship project showcasing the indigenous manufacturing capabilities of the Indian defence industry and will add another milestone to the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat‘ and the ‘Make in India’ initiatives of the government.”
These combat vehicles are extremely agile with all round protection against small arms fire and will assist small independent detachments
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. This is a good development, in absence of which, fighting units were resorting to ad-hoc modifications of vehicles for carriage of MMGs, AGLs and ATGMs.
The Mahindra Armored Light Specialist Vehicle (ALSV) is a light armoured specialist vehicle built for use by military and defence 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. The ALSV offers ballistic protection up to B7, STANAG Level II. It provides protected mobility for the front, side and rear as per STANAG Level I Ballistics and Blast for four crewmembers with battle load having ample stowage space for arms and ammunition inside the crew compartment and additional 400 kgs cargo load-carrying capacity. It can also be upgradable up to STANAG – II Ballistics.
Key characteristics of the Mahindra ALSV include: 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 kg payload capacity; self-recovery winch and; high travel all-wheel independent suspension with central type inflation system. It features a self-cleaning-type exhaust scavenging and air filtration system for extreme dusty climate, which makes it ideal for deserts. Its maximum speed is > 120 Kmph, and acceleration – 0 to 60 Kmph in 12 seconds; it has 30-degree gradability with parking brake holding capacity in full GVW, and 50 km run-flat system on all five wheels as per FINABEL standard. Induction of Light Specialist Vehicles will meet the requirement by standardising the required vehicles, avoid modifications saving time and money, and provide protection from small arms to the detachment.
Concurrently, there is news that the TATA Group is set to bag a contract from the Indian Army for heavy armoured protection vehicles for troops deployed in key sectors. According to a sources there are two more programs for procurement of special wheeled vehicles, one of which has TATA as the frontrunner. In February 2021, orders for 27 M4 armoured vehicles at a cost of 177.95 crore were placed with Pune-based Bharat Forge of the Kalyani group, which has a tie-up with the South African firm Paramount Group. These vehicles are suited for quick mobility in rough terrain and in areas affected by mine and IED threats.