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India and Tanzania’s military ties are heating up, with defence equipment sales talks ramping up and armoured vehicles taking centre stage. General Jacob John Mkunda, Tanzania’s Chief of Defence Force, made a strategic visit to India’s Mechanised Infantry School in Ahmednagar last month, where he witnessed demonstrations of two key contenders: the Indian-made BMP-II Infantry Combat Vehicle and the DRDO’s WhAP 8×8 Amphibious Wheeled Armoured Vehicle.

Tanzania’s military faces the challenge of ageing Soviet-era Armoured vehicles like the BTR-152 and BRDM-2. Modernization is a crucial goal, and Indian options seem to be gaining traction. The BMP-II, a Russian design manufactured in India under license, offers proven firepower and infantry support capabilities. Meanwhile, the WhAP 8×8, a domestically developed amphibious vehicle, boasts impressive manoeuvrability and all-terrain prowess, perfect for Tanzania’s diverse landscape.

Several factors make India an attractive partner for Tanzania’s defence needs. Geographical proximity eases logistics and maintenance, while cultural and historical ties foster trust and understanding. Additionally, India’s growing defence manufacturing capabilities offer cost-effective and technologically advanced solutions, compared to traditional Western suppliers.

While armoured vehicles grab headlines, the India-Tanzania talks extend beyond this category. Reports suggest discussions on a wider range of military equipment, including radars, communication systems, and training programs.

India’s defence engagement with Tanzania also fits into a broader context of regional realignments in East Africa. China’s growing economic and military presence in the region has prompted several countries to seek alternative security partners. India, with its established naval presence in the Indian Ocean and its recent participation in joint military exercises with East African nations, is well-positioned to play a more significant role in the region’s security landscape.

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