Friday, June 27, 2008

Western firms vying to sell combat vehicles to India

Posted online: Tuesday , June 24, 2008 at 12:53:13
Updated: Tuesday , June 24, 2008 at 12:53:13

Paris, June 24: Leading Western armament companies are vying with each other to grab a USD two billion tender for the supply of mine protected combat vehicles to Indian armed forces for its anti-insurgency operations.

Drawing upon the experience and needs of forces engaged in combat zones Afghanistan and Iraq, leading American and Western defence companies are now coming up with more and more advanced surveillance systems for protection of combatants in battle against terrorists.

Western experts said that India would issue global tenders for 1,500 such vehicles within a month and western companies were ready to team up with Indian companies for this order.

“This is just an initial order. The demand of Indian security forces could run up to few thousands of such vehicles,” they said in Paris.

Leading armament companies are each month churning out new devices in the battle against terrorism, which in turn could have major technology spin-offs for India, also engaged in major anti-insurgency campaign.

The market for such systems for the west, has been estimated to run into billions of dollars as US and NATO forces face threats like land mine blasts, suicide bombers and need for greater mobility in the battle against terrorists.

And western companies foresee an equally big market also worth more than five billion dollars for such equipment for Indian security forces in the coming years.

With such a heavy demand, the companies are now hitting the market, with more and more advanced mobile mine detectors, mine resistant combat vehicles and highly mobile battle vehicles to carry out surprise hit and run raids against terrorists.

French armour company, Nexter, has just launched a multi-purpose counter-mine vehicle SUVIM, which it claims can blast any type of mine.

SUVIM, the company officials said, had been launched for protection of French forces now operating in Afghanistan and can clear improvised explosive devices, infra-red mines, pressure mines, anti-personnel mines, as well as magnetic mines.

With eight to 10 feet tires, the new mobile mine sweepers have the capability of jumping around even anti-tank mines, which can be defused by specialised trailers it carries.

The vehicles are to be used by the French forces to open routes of military convoy for as long as 200 km in 24 hours and is seen as ideal for road opening for army convoys in Jammu and Kashmir, a task which is currently undertaken manually or with the help of specialised sniffer dogs.

“These vehicles are competitively priced,” a top Nexter official told visiting Indian journalists at the just concluded Eurosatory-2008 Land Combat Exhibition in Paris.

Nexter is ready for total technology transfer and production of these vehicles in India, which has already been introduced to the French forces.

Another breakthrough by the company is a 4x4 ARAVIS multipurpose heavily protected vehicles, for use against terrorists in thick jungle areas.

The new vehicles, company officials said, had for the first time in the world been tested to withstand even 50-kg TNT blasts and capability to defeat even 155-mm artillery blast all around it.

ARAVIS also claims that it can withstand even 10-kg mine blast under the belly and wheels and appears to be an ideal weapon for Indian security forces battling Naxals in Central India.

“The vehicles have SAFEPRO armoured technology that can defeat combined effects of blasts and fragments generated by both lethal IED mines and AP carbide heavy machine gun bullets.

The vehicles can carry upto eight combat troops and can be air transported by C-130J aircraft.

Most of the American and European companies have also come up with highly mobile mine protected 8x8 super mobility troop carriers, which Indian forces have been seeking.

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