26 Aug 2011 By VIVEK RAGHUVANSHI DefenseNews
NEW DELHI - The first lot of six mine-protected vehicles jointly developed by BAE Systems and India's auto major, Mahindra Group, has been delivered to the state police of Jharkhand, which are fighting an internal Maoist insurgency.
The Aug. 25 delivery marks the beginning of serial production of the vehicles at Mahindra Land Systems in India's Faridabad-based plant, a company executive said. This represents the first infantry combat vehicle of this kind produced by the Indian private sector, he said.
Mahindra Defence Systems is producing a variety of military vehicles for the Indian Army and the paramilitary forces. The Army's requirement for special military vehicles is estimated to be more than $3 billion.
The Army proposes to purchase more than 10,000 light military vehicles over the next five to seven years valued at more than $2 billion, and the majority of these will be produced by private defense companies in collaboration with overseas firms.
These vehicles will be purchased in phases. The Army requires that the vehicles include four-wheel drive, a high power-to-weight ratio, are capable of traveling 80 kilometers per hour and carrying rocket launchers, and are equipped with GPS navigation.
The Army uses about 2,000 Russian BMP-1 and BMP-2 multipurpose armored vehicles equipped with anti-tank missiles and other weapons. The state owned Ordnance Factory at Jabalpur produced the Jonga light vehicle, which has been stopped since 1998.
The Army also is procuring light bulletproof vehicles, for which Mahindra & Mahindra Defence, Tata Motors, Vectra Motors, Force Motors, Concord and the Ordnance Factories Board are in the running.