The strategic decision addresses challenges in high-altitude operations and is crucial for enhancing the military’s capabilities
Indian defence authorities have decided to proceed with the American Cummins engine for the entire Zorawar light tank project, following delays caused by issues in the supply of German engines. Despite the recent availability of German clearances for engine supply, sources within the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) confirm a strategic decision to stick with Cummins for the entire program.
Operating military platforms in high-altitude regions poses unique challenges, including reduced oxygen levels and logistical issues. Traditional platforms like tanks and artillery often struggle with power generation and manoeuvrability. The recent Galwan Conflict and historical events like the Kargil War underscore the difficulties faced at extreme altitudes.
The K9 Vajra self-propelled howitzers deployed in Ladakh had to undergo special modifications to function effectively in high-altitude conditions. The Chinese deployment of the Type 15 tank, with advantages in extreme heights, prompted the need for a specialized light tank on the Indian side.
Zorawar Light Tank Project Background
Initially planned with a German engine, the Zorawar light tank project experienced delays due to a lack of German export control clearances (BAFA clearance). Subsequently, the decision was made to develop the tank with the American Cummins engine. The Zorawar light tank, a collaboration between DRDO and Larsen and Toubro, is nearing completion of its prototype with the Cummins engine.
Trials for the light tank are scheduled to commence by the end of the year, starting with internal trials followed by main trials in the desert sector. The tank will then undergo testing in high-altitude areas such as Ladakh and the Sikkim sector, emphasizing its versatility across terrains and conditions.
The necessity for the Zorawar light tank arose during the 2020 standoff with China, where the People’s Liberation Army showcased light tanks with superior mobility along the Line of Actual Control. The tank is named after General Zorawar Singh, renowned for leading successful campaigns in Tibet. The standoff prompted the Indian Army to strategically deploy T-72 and T-90 tanks, gaining a tactical advantage and pressuring the adversary.