For the Indian Army, Options are Russia’s Sprut-SDM2S25M, South Korea’s Hanwha K21-105, and the Sabrah by Elbit Systems of Israel.
The Indian Army has published a Request for Information (RFI) to seek potential suppliers for a contract to procure around 350 light tanks for Future Infantry Combat Vehicle, in response to the “Make in India” initiative. Within two years after the contract has been inked, the Indian vendors can collaborate with Foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers to deliver 75-100 vehicles per year. There will be a three stage induction model, as proposed by the Indian Army.
Specifically, the Indian Army plans to procure multi-role combat vehicles under 25 tons, to enhance its advantage in mountain warfare. The maneuverability and powerful firepower of the light tank will significantly enhance the Indian Army’s combat capability in complex terrain. These vehicles are going to be the mainstay of the mechanized forces for a long time.
Options are Russia’s Sprut-SDM2S25M, South Korea’s Hanwha K21-105, and the Sabrah by Elbit Systems of Israel. Given the large order, some more competitors may emerge, but currently, the vehicles of Russia and Korea are said to have many advantages. The Russian 18-ton Sprut seems to be gaining popularity with the Indian Army, as it is a self-propelled anti-tank gun with a gun the same as the T-90 tank.
The Sprut, which is light, also mounts the formidable 125mm smooth bore gun used by T-72s and T-90s, which means the Indian Army need not change ammunition. Russian manufacturers have upgraded the engine which provides good mobility in all conditions.
The Sprut-SD’s main armament, the 2A75, is capable of firing APFSDS, HE-Frag, HEAT and ATGM ammunition. This allows the 2S25 firepower to be as powerful as a main battle tank and as maneuverable and amphibious as airborne infantry combat vehicles. The 2S25 can be used by units of ground forces and naval infantry as a light amphibious tank. Currently, the only operators of the 2S25 are the Russian airborne troops with 24 of these vehicles in service.
Initially, Russia’s Sprut-SD was considered the best candidate, but its high cost, unproven reliability, as well as Moscow’s unwillingness to transfer all production technology made India decide looking for a new direction. A potential new option might be a proposal from a Korean company Hanwha Defense, the K21-105 light tank based on the K21 infantry fighting vehicle chassis.
The K21-105 is a very advanced and reliable light tank, extremely comfortable for the crew. It can be considered a medium tank, with a weight of about 25 tons, a length of 8.5 m, a width of 3.4 m, and a height of 3 m. It is operated by a crew of 3, including commander, gunner, and driver.
Strong firepower and high maneuverability make it possible for the K21-105 to perform more diverse combat operations than the bulky main battle tank. The armor of the K21-105 is also quite solid. The front arc provides protection against 30 mm armor-piercing rounds. All-round protection is against 14.5 mm armor-piercing rounds and artillery shell splinters. Vehicle is also fitted with automatic fire suppression and NBC protection systems.
Compared to Sprut-SD, 105’s firepower is slightly weaker. This light tank is armed with a fully-stabilized 105 mm rifled low-recoil gun. It fires all standard NATO 105 mm ammunition. Maximum range of fire is 4 km. This tank is also compatible with Falarick 105 gun-launched anti-tank missiles.