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Major Defence Updates – Logistics Makeover to Tank Killers

Innovations in military logistics, drones and autonomous technology are transforming India's defence landscape

November 29, 2023 By Lt. General P.C. Katoch (Retd) Photo(s): By Tata Advanced Systems, X / adgpi, Gridbots Technologies
The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army


Logistic and Mission Support Vehicles

Media reports of November 13, 2023 have stated that the three services (Army, Navy and Air Force) are set to place logistical support orders costing 45,000 to 50,000 crore, and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has already issued a Request for Information (RFI) for formal collection of information about potential suppliers. The report further says that the deals may involve as many as 5,000 trucks or lorries, according to sources quoted in the media. The three likely front-runners for the orders are TATA Advanced Systems (part of the TATA group), Bharat Forge (part of the Kalyani Group) and Ashok Leyland.

The MoD's plan is to procure approximately 5,000 lorries to be used as general service load carriers with a payload capacity of 5/7.5 tonne: 5 tonne for hills, high altitude, cross country and desert terrain; 7.5 tonne for plains. The RFI states that the vehicle should be 4x4 drive and capable of operating in different terrain and climatic conditions prevalent in the country. The platform should facilitate modification for other uses including troop carriage, containerisation and for specialist roles.

The overall dimensions and weight required of the lorries are

  • allow crossing over a Class 18 bridge;
  • transportable by broad gauge section of the railway with ODC clearance;
  • transportable by aircraft in service;
  • provision of lashing points/hooks on all four sides to enable the vehicle to be air dropped;
  • locking arrangements for container transportation;
  • facility for easy and quick conversion to flat bed configuration by removal of side walls, super structure and tail board.

The vehicle chassis required is to facilitate easy conversion to meet one of the following roles: Troop Carrier - capable of carrying 34 soldiers on foldable side facing seats with personal weapon and equipment; Wireless/Signal Lorry; Workshop Lorry; Light Recovery Vehicle (LRV); Petroleum/ Water Bowser of 5KL capacity; Kitchen Container; Refrigerated Lorry; Caravan cum Office Container; other specialist roles as required by the Armed Forces.

The three services (Army, Navy and Air Force) are set to place logistical support orders costing 45,000 to 50,000 crore

The deals are likely to be completed over a period of four to five years according to sources. The continuing standoff with China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and mounting threats to national security has forced the government to increase focus on logistics support transportation for the Armed Forces, as well as developing the requisite infrastructure to facilitate movement of logistics.

(Representative Images) Indian Army facilitated internal evaluation of Tactical & Logistic Drones

Concurrently, the Army is procuring some 500 drones using technology developed by MIT, Chennai for logistics duty in difficult terrain like the North-East and high-altitude landscapes to replace mules and even helicopters to some extent. Capable of flying through fog, rain and gusty winds, these drones can navigated for 20 km to-and-fro at an altitude of one km using a guided navigational pathway using the Global Positioning System (GPS); also termed 'blind-eye navigation'.

Weighing 100 kg, the drone can carry 15-20 kg medicines, food, provisions or oil from one altitude to another altitude, using proximity sensors and land smoothly. After landing, these drones can restart after a while and fly once an 'arming switch' is activated. The drones have been inducting into the Indian Army after successful trials in Leh, Ladakh, dense jungles and high cliffs in the North-East and at Pokhran.

The ongoing robotics revolution in India has ushered multiple innovations at various levels and sectors

The ongoing robotics revolution in India has ushered multiple innovations at various levels and sectors. Some of the top robot companies include Systemantics, TATA Brabo, MCI Robotics, Gridbots, Sastra Robotics and others. A host of promising startups like Orange Robotics and Hitech Robotics are coming up.

Gridbots Technologies Private Limited is exemplifying indigenous cutting edge technologies. It first unveiled its Titan Autonomous Tank Killer during DefExpo 2022. Titan is a high capacity multi-utility all terrain, track-based combat vehicle which can autonomously perform multiple types of operations in the battle field without any human assistance or intervention thereby minimising the risk for the infantry and enhancing their capabilities on ground operations. Titan is used for unmanned and autonomous conduct of silent real-time day and night surveillance, can support weapons mount, situational awareness, casualty evacuation, carriage and delivery of operational loads in deserts, plains and high altitude/mountain terrain. It can also be used by homeland security units in the case of riots - by police units in high threat and counter terrorist urban environment scenarios.

Gridbots Technologies' Titan

The Titan has a payload capacity of 2,000-3,000 kg, range of 20 km (Mesh Radio), speed of 20 km/h and controls that are manual/auto/follow me. It has a 2-km remote range, smart charging and robotic arm mounting and interfacing, 360 degree pana/thermal view, 5.8G encrypted communications; eight channel video, 32 channel LIDAR perception. It can be used for 2D/3D map generation, e-maps, inspection, surveillance and reconnaissance.

Titan is a high capacity multi-utility all terrain, track-based combat vehicle which can autonomously perform multiple types of operations in the battle field without any human assistance

From the Army's perspective, a very important role of the Titan is that of a "tank killer"; as its technology is engineered to autonomously detect and annihilate enemy tanks, making it a potent force multiplier. As an autonomous tank annihilator, Titan flaunts an impressive spec sheet, including a top speed of 20 kilometers per hour for battlefield mobility. Furthermore, with a 20-kilometer mesh radio range, it is capable of sustaining fluid communication with command structures and other units. What distinguishes Titan is its adaptability. A generous 1.5-tonne payload capacity means the Titan can be equipped to fulfill diverse roles, from inspections to surveillance and reconnaissance. This indigenous robot is equipped with an automated target-tracking system which, hand in hand with a thermal sight, guarantees meticulous identification and engagement of enemy targets.

A standout attribute of the Titan Autonomous Tank Killer is that it is armed with the 'Amogha-III' missile produced by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL). The Amogha-III, a state-of-the-art man-portable missile, is a 'fire-and-forget' weapon, requiring minimal user intervention. Equipped with an anti-armour tandem warhead, the missile exhibits a knack for penetrating the most robust armour, effortlessly breezing through Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA).

The Gridbots Titans took part in the Tri-Service exercise held recently in the desert sector, which saw participation by the Army, Navy, and the Air Force. The Army would have evaluated the performance of the Titan and made plans to suitably induct these robots based on their operational usage.