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The successful rollout of a light tank by Larsen & Toubro (L&T) could be a major turning point for India’s indigenous main battle tank (MBT) program. This development, based on a chassis designed by DRDO’s Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE), strengthens the case for a domestically produced Next-Generation Main Battle Tank (NGMBT) to meet the Indian Army’s requirements.

The Ministry of Defence’s inclusion of light tanks in its latest indigenization list effectively eliminates the option of foreign procurement. L&T’s success in utilizing DRDO technology for this 25-30 ton light tank showcases the potential of the private sector in developing the NGMBT.

Discussions are already underway regarding a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) involving private companies and CVRDE for NGMBT production. This model, similar to the one adopted for the AMCA (Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft) program and the 13-ton helicopter program, would leverage private sector expertise under a majority-private consortium.

The Future Ready Combat Vehicles (FRCV) program seeks to procure 1770 next-generation MBTs in a phased manner by 2030. The RFI (Request for Information) issued last year specifies a “future tank” with performance-based logistics and technology transfer. This medium-weight tank is envisioned to serve for the next 40-50 years as the mainstay of the Indian Army’s armoured forces.

DRDO already has started testing the DATRAN 1500 engine for the Arjun Mk1A and Future Ready Combat Vehicles (FRCV) program. The success of L&T’s light tank serves as a crucial test for both DRDO and private Indian companies. A well-executed project will strengthen their case for leading the development of the NGMBT, ushering in an era of self-reliance in India’s MBT program.

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