Trials of indigenously developed Zorawar tank to start by year-end; India selects American engine for light tanks

India will begin trials of the Zorawar tank, being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO and Larsen and Toubro (L&T), from the end of this year in test tracks at their in-house facility for testing all parameters,.

These indigenous light tanks would be operated extensively in the desert sector before taking them to the high altitude locations of Ladakh.

The upcoming trial phase will provide valuable insights into the tank’s performance, paving the way for its future deployment by the Indian Army.

Notably, these light tanks are urgently required to counter Chinese deployments in high-altitude regions.

Further, DRDO and L&T have decided to retain America’s Cummins engines instead of German’s ‘Motoren-und Turbinen Union’ (MTU) to power the tank after the Germans did not relax the export control regime despite the fact that the MTU was ready last October to supply its version of the engine to power indigenously-designed light tank. 

Worth mentioning that the need for a light tank was felt after tensions built up in eastern Ladakh in 2020 and China deployed light armour at high altitude locations.

The Indian Army currently is equipped with T-72, T-90 and Arjun MK-1 and MK-1A tanks, however these are found to be inapt for operations in the high-altitude regions owing to their heavy weight.

Noteworthy, the Indian Army has estimated a need for 354 light tanks in high-altitude Ladakh.

Out of these, L&T-DRDO will produce 59 of them, and the remaining tanks will be manufactured by other Indian companies after a competitive bidding process.

About Zorawar Tank

The new light tank is supposed to be a light weighing around 25 tonnes and maneuverable without sacrificing firepower.

It would be armed with niche technologies including but not limited to Artificial Intelligence, integration with swarm drones for higher situational awareness, loitering ammunition for high lethality and active protection system as a shield against modern anti-armour systems

Further, Zorawar Tank will have a hull, co-developed by DRDO and L&T, that will house an 800 horsepower (HP) engine optimized for high altitudes.

Mounted on this hull will be a 105-millimetre gun turret, procured ready-built from Belgian firm, John Cockerill.