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The Indian Army Is Looking For An Articulated APC

August 6, 2019

The BvS10 manufactured by BAE Systems. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Last month the Indian Army published a Request for Information (RFI) describing an “articulated all-terrain vehicle” or AATV to meet its logistical needs in remote areas. The RFI was open from July 8 until July 30 although the documents, which are available for download on the army’s website, specified that a “a tentative date of issue of Request for Proposal (RFP)” was set for December 2019. An RFP is the official designation for the review process that leads to a contract signing with a chosen supplier.

AATVs are quite rare for military inventories but their usefulness is transporting men and material over great distances without paved roads. Indeed, the RFI stated the AATV must be able to run at least 30 kilometers per hour “cross country over hard terrain.”

An unforeseen outcome of this RFI, if it ever progresses to a full-fledged acquisition, are the limited choices facing the Indian Army. While the heavy production facilities of the state-owned Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) have assembled tracked vehicles for decades, AATVs were never developed for India’s varied geography. This leaves three foreign companies as the only competitors vying to fulfill the army’s logistical requirements. First is the UK’s BAE Systems and its Warthog that proved itself in Afghanistan; the Warthog traces its lineage to Sweden’s BvS10 pictured above. Second is Singapore’s ST Engineering whose Bronco shares a common ancestry with the Warthog.

Third and last is Russia’s DT-10P Vityaz and its variants dating to the Cold War. Besides a standard defensive armament such as a machine gun on the roof of the cab, it’s possible to further weaponize Russia’s AATVs by modifying the trailer. A recent example was the development of a short-to-medium-range SAM based on the Vityaz tailored for Russia’s Arctic forces. Now other than these three (the UK, Singapore, and Russia) a distant fourth competitor is the Sisu NA-110 made in Finland. The Indian Army listed the characteristics it wants for its AATVs in the RFI and these are summarized below:

  • “…a twin body tracked amphibious vehicle with automatic transmission.”
  • Able to transport three (3) tons of cargo or 10 passengers and is protected to STANAG I–making it resistant to 5.56 mm gunfire.
  • Manages a top speed of 30 km/h on rugged terrain and functions in 15 degrees below zero temperature and 45 degree heat. This is a clear reference to areas like the Aksai Chin plateau bordering China and the deserts of Rajasthan in the northeast.
  • When fully loaded, the AATV manages a 30 degree gradient, a 16 degree side slope, a 0.5 m vertical step, and a 1.5 m trench.
  • When crossing bodies of water, the army wants its AATV to have a one meter fording depth and a “flotation” allowing it to move at two knots fully loaded.
  • The AATVs range when fully loaded must reach 300 km and it should be able to handle altitudes reaching 18,000 feet above sea level, also known as Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The army wants a built-in cold engine start, HVAC, and “self recovery with full payload.”

The RFI states that it expects “approximately 20 AATVs…delivered between 15 to 18 months form the date of signing of contract.” Of course, the RFI also reveals the army plans on evaluation tests for the competing vehicles at an undisclosed location 16,000 feet above sea level within six to nine months after the RFP. Bear in mind the RFP is scheduled in December 2019 on a yet to be determined day. The army did set July 30 as the date for accepting responses from any vendors but further submissions may still be forwarded until August 14 to the SenaBhawan in Delhi.

Anyone who wishes to review the Indian Army’s complete RFI documents for AATVs can download these from their website.

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