India unveils new Zorawar light tank - M5 Dergi
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India unveils new Zorawar light tank

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India has unveiled its new light battle tank, the Zorawar, developed in a record time of under two years.

This new light combat vehicle is a joint effort between the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Larsen & Toubro (L&T), designed specifically to counter threats from China in high-altitude areas.

Named after the 19th-century Dogra General Zorawar Singh, who led military operations in Ladakh and Western Tibet, the 25-ton Zorawar is the first tank to be designed and ready for trials in such a short timeframe. Its amphibious capabilities enable it to traverse steep climbs in mountainous terrain and cross rivers and other water bodies more easily than heavier predecessors like the T-72 and T-90 tanks.

The Indian Army has placed an initial order for 59 Zorawar tanks, with plans for a larger program to acquire 295 more of these armored vehicles. The Zorawar light tanks are expected to be inducted into the Indian Army by 2027.

DRDO Chairman Dr. Samir V. Kamat highlighted the rigorous user trials that the Zorawar will undergo, including winter and high-altitude tests. “In my estimation, it will take about a year to a year and a half to complete the full cycle of trials and proceed to acquisition. Therefore, I believe the first tank should be ready by 2027,” he stated.

The Army has proposed acquiring indigenous light tanks to enhance deployment and movement in high-altitude areas, countering the Chinese deployment of similar armored columns along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The Zorawar tanks are designed with an active protection system to shield combat vehicles from anti-tank guided missiles and projectiles.

Moreover, the amphibious nature of these tanks will allow deployment across riverine regions, including the Pangong Tso Lake in eastern Ladakh, where the Indian forces have deployed significant tank numbers to counter the Chinese presence.

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