Russia Offers Its ‘Cutting Edge’ Sprut-SDM1 Light Amphibious Tank To Indian Army Amid China Tensions

Russia has offered to supply the Indian Army with the Sprut SDM1 light amphibious tank and has already submitted a technical proposal to India, said a Rosoboronexport official.

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The official revealed that they have responded to India’s request by submitting their technical proposals. The Russian business is prepared to undertake talks and demonstrate the tank to the Indian side.

The Russian defense firm expressed a strong desire to participate in the Indian tender for the supply of light tanks. It said they are ready to transfer technologies and offer assistance to begin manufacturing the tank in India. 

The Rosoboronexport official made this announcement ahead of the DefExpo, which will take place from October 18 to 22 in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.  

The Indian Army, searching for a light tank for a while, has recently started Project Zorawar. The project calls for the induction of light tanks to enable faster mobilization and deployment in high-altitude conflict zones.

Light Amphibious Tank (LAT) SPRUT-SDM1

Following the stalemate with China in eastern Ladakh, the Indian Army saw an urgent need to deploy light tanks to counter the PLA. Beijing possesses a variety of lightweight tanks, whereas India typically employs heavyweight tanks like the T-90 and T-72.

The latest wheeled armored personnel carriers (ZTL-11), assault vehicles from the CSK series, and third-generation modern light tanks (ZTQ 15 (Type 15)) have all been stationed by Chinese forces along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh over the past two years. 

Chinese ZTQ-15 light tanks sped through mountain passages that Indian armored battalions found challenging to move their big T-72s through at heights of up to 17,500 feet. The operational challenges of employing big main battle tanks (MBTs) in mountain warfare have driven India’s light tank development.

In April 2021, the Directorate General of Mechanized Forces, on behalf of the Ministry of Defense, issued a Request for Information (RFI) to procure 350 light tanks in the 25-ton weight category.

This decision was in line with the Make-I category of the 2020 Defense Procurement Procedure (DPP). Furthermore, the Defense Acquisition Council will likely issue an Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) soon.

The EurAsian Times had earlier reported that L&T has collaborated with DRDO on “Project Zorawar.”  The prototype of the domestic light tank is planned to be unveiled in late 2023.

Lt Col JS Sodhi (Retd) of the Indian Army previously told the EurAsian Times that light tanks could significantly improve the combat prospects in the High Altitude Areas (HAA) because they can be tailored to the existing infrastructure, such as bridges and roads. They will have excellent maneuverability to give the Indian Army a better combat advantage.

The Sprut-SDM also serves as an amphibious vehicle. (via Rostec Press Office)

Sprut-SDM1 Light Amphibious Combat Vehicle

The Sprut-SDM1 is the only light amphibious combat vehicle in its category with the firepower of the main battle tank and outfitted with a 125 mm tank gun, the Rosoboronexport official said.

He added that the Sprut-SDM1 could employ any ammunition manufactured in India for the T-72M1 and T-90S tanks. The tank is outfitted with a guided missile system that can outgun armored targets, including those with Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA).

The SPRUT-SDM1 is designed to provide fire support to forces engaged in combat with heavily armored targets, destroy enemy strongholds and defenses, conduct battle surveillance, and maintain combat security.

The official explained that the Sprut could operate day and night on mountainous terrain with thin air, at extremely high and low temperatures, traverse water obstacles, and fire its cannon while afloat. It can also disembark from ships.

Sprut SDM1 2016 (Wikimedia Commons)

The Sprut can be transferred by military cargo planes, landing ships, or by parachuting with a crew. The tank has a range of 500 kilometers without refueling.

Meanwhile, the Indian Army has outlined its specifications for the light tank. To provide high levels of situational awareness, the military seeks to equip its future light tank with loitering munition, artificial intelligence (AI), tactical surveillance drone integration, and an active protection system.

The Indian Army also wants an active protection system to protect the tank from anti-tank-guided missiles and munitions. Due to its exceptional fighting capabilities and performance, this amphibious tank can be used by marines and land troops.