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Coming - Light Strike Vehicles

August 22, 2019 By Lt. General P.C. Katoch (Retd)
The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army


Light Strike Vehicle (LSV)

Recommendations of the Study on 'Modernisation of Special Forces' undertaken by Military Operations Directorate, Army Headquarters in 2002, included the provision of Light Strike Vehicle (LSV) to Army's Special Forces battalions. The aim was to provide mobility to the five-men Assault Squads through a light vehicle that was transportable by fixed wing fixed-wing aircraft/helicopter and air-dropped, for missions deep inside enemy territory.

The LSV was to be capable of carrying and mounting an assortment of weapons that the Special Forces task force would need to carry for multiple missions. During the 1971 Indo-Pak War, 10 Para (Commando) conducted raids 80 km deep inside Pakistani territory across the Thar Desert. The stealth and speed of the attack on Pakistani Ranger Base at Chachro, Tharparkar District of Sindh in Pakistan, took the enemy completely by surprise, who didn't expect such deep raid and had not deployed any early warning elements ahead of its defences. They had no inkling of the impending attack. Exploiting enemy's psychological dislocation, no time was wasted by 10 Para (Commando) in raiding Virwah and Nagarparkar in quick succession. Use of specially fitted jeeps / jongas, armed with light weapons was the only available option for transportation. The raids, capture of Chachro in particular, were successful because of simple plans including catering from required firepower down to the fuel and vehicle loads. The speed and ferocity of the attacks forced enemy to panic and flee despite having superiority in numbers and fortified positions. Chachro was the first time such a long distance raid in desert terrain was executed by India, becoming a benchmark for similar operations in the future. However, future requirements for Special Forces required not only capability of moving ab initio by ground, but also air transporting these LSVs deep inside enemy territory.

The CCS Note for Modernisation of Special Forces was approved by the government in 2002 itself. With this, the Special Forces were authorised a specified number of LSVs to transport part of the 48 Assault Squads in each battalion. The hunt of LSVs, however, proved elusive. Despite considerable efforts in early years, only one company in Singapore offered to provide LSVs. However, this being single vendor situation, could not be progressed. Eventually, news reports of May 10, 2018, revealed that indigenous firm 'Force Motors' despite stiff competition had bagged the Light Strike Vehicles orders from the Indian Army. These news reports further elaborated that: considerable research and development effort was put in by Force Motors in designing and development of the fully indigenous LSV that won the deal; the LSV exacts military activities with the assurance of speed and reliability; the vehicle not only uses the proven, rugged and reliable aggregates like engines and transmission available with Force Motors, but has been upgraded for demanding applications for the Armed Forces; Force Motors prototypes established their superiority in the rigorous user trials, conducted for over two years, in tough and rough terrains as varied as the scorching deserts of Rajasthan (50°C) to the freezing Himalayas (-30°C); designed for quick ingress and egress, these LSVs are capable of performing in extreme terrain, with maneuverability, high speed and stability, with 4x4 configuration, and have differential locks on all wheels; the LSV is equipped with run flat tyres and has the provision to mount a rocket launcher and machine guns, and; this LSV can be airlifted and dropped into enemy territory, for use as an advance fast strike vehicle.

Force Motors spokesperson after winning the deal said, "We are happy that the Indian Army has reposed trust in the fully indigenous Light Strike Vehicle developed by our research and development team. This is a small but significant step in creating fully indigenous specialist vehicles for the Armed Forces – a truly 'Make in India' initiative". The news reports of May 10, 2018, also brought out that: Force Motors had also supplied the Army with new engines for the famous 155mm Howitzer Guns; trials were on for the adoption of Force developed engines on the indigenously developed new generation Dhanush Guns, and; Force Motors 'Traveller' and 'Trax; range of vehicles are already in service, with most of the central armed police forces (CAPF) organisations in the country.

Force Motors Limited is an Indian automotive manufacturer, the flagship company of the Dr. Abhay Firodia Group. From 1958 until 2005 the company was known as Bajaj Tempo Motors, because it originated as a joint venture between Bachraj Trading Ltd. and Germany's 'Tempo'. The company is known for its proven brands like the Tempo, Matador, Minidor and Traveller. It is India's largest van maker and is completely vertically integrated, making its own components for the entire product range. The vehicles Ford Motors has provided to the CAPF, as mentioned in news reports, are closed-type which are bullet-proof to meet their requirements. The LSV being provisioned to Army's Special Forces are the open version that can also be air transported and air dropped. These are being provisioned in sand, black and OG colours. Their salient specifications and accessories include: 104 KW or 140 HP @ 3800 RPM BSIV; 321 NM @ 1600- 2400 RPM; power to weight ratio 30 KW per tonne; ground clearance 250mm; transmission 4 x 4 Diff locks in front and rear; run flat types Pirelli Scorpion, black out lamps; gun mounts/weapon mount, and; folding structure. These LSVs will meet the long standing requirements of our Special Forces, enhancing their mobility to strike deep into the enemy.