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India’s ambitious Project Zorawar, aimed at developing a 25-ton Light Battle Tank to counter Chinese deployments in high altitudes, has faced engine delays, leading to a potential shift to an American Cummins engine for the program. The project is a joint effort by the DRDO (Defense Research and Development Organization) and L&T (Larsen & Toubro).

The setbacks in the development of the indigenous tank primarily stem from the German MTU engine manufacturer’s failure to agree on the delivery terms set by DRDO-L&T. As a result, the program is now considering an American Cummins engine as an alternative. This decision could impact the project’s timeline.

According to a defence source, the prototype of the light tank is expected to be unveiled by the end of this year or in early 2024. Following this stage, the development phase will take approximately 18 months to two years, while production will require an additional year.

Project Zorawar is a substantial undertaking, with a total of 354 light tanks planned for production. The DRDO will be responsible for manufacturing 59 of these tanks, while the remaining units fall under the Make 1 Category.

The Zorawar light tank is designed to weigh around 25 tonnes and will be equipped with cutting-edge technologies, including Artificial Intelligence, drone integration, an active protection system, and a high level of situational awareness. The tank’s development is seen as a critical step in addressing security challenges in high-altitude regions.

The Defense Acquisition Council had previously approved the Rs 16,000 crore Project Zorawar in December 2022. The project is named after Zorawar Singh Kahluria, a renowned Military General known for his expertise in mountain warfare during the reign of Dogra King Gulab Singh. The program holds strategic importance in India’s efforts to enhance its defence capabilities in mountainous and high-altitude terrains.

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