Russia again offers its Sprut-SDM light battle tank to India

Russia will field its Sprut-SDM1 light amphibious tank for the Indian Army’s upcoming tender for light tanks and has submitted technical details of the same, according to an official from Rosoboronexport. Following the standoff with China in eastern Ladakh, the Indian Army is prioritising the procurement of a light tank, named ‘Zorawar’, for deployment in the mountains. In April 2021, the Army had issued a Request For Information (RFI) for the procurement of 350 light tanks weighing less than 25 tonnes in a phased manner, along with performance-based logistics, niche technologies, engineering support package, and other maintenance and training requirements.

According to recent reports published by The Hindu, the project, which has already received in-principle approval, is planned to be procured under the ‘Make-I’ acquisition category of the Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP)-2020, in line with the ‘Make in India’ initiative. The Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) from the Defence Acquisition Council is expected shortly.

“In response to India’s request, we have submitted our technical proposals. We are ready to hold consultations and show the tank to the Indian side,” a Rosoboronexport official said ahead of the DefExpo to be held from October 18 to 22 in Gandhinagar.

Stating that Rosoboronexport will definitely take part in the Indian tender for the supply of light tanks, the official stated, “We are ready to transfer technologies and provide assistance in launching the manufacture of the tank in India.”

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Larsen & Toubro (L&T) are jointly developing a light tank as per the Army’s specifications.

Talking of the features of the Sprut-SDM1, the Rosoboronexport official said it was the only light amphibious combat vehicle in its class having firepower of a main battle tank and equipped with a 125 mm tank gun. “All the ammunition produced in India for T-72M1 and T-90S tanks can be used by the Sprut-SDM1,” he stated.

The Sprut can cross water obstacles and fire its gun while afloat, disembark from a ship, operate day and night on terrain — in the high mountains in conditions of thin air, at very high and low temperatures, the official elaborated. The tank is equipped with a guided missile system designed to defeat armoured targets, including those equipped with ERA, at ranges up to 5 km, he added.

In the last two years China has deployed the third-generation modern light tank ZTQ 15 (Type 15), latest ZTL-11 wheeled Armoured Personnel Carriers and the CSK series of assault vehicles along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.

About the 2S25 Sprut-SD/ Sprut-SDM1 Light Tank/Tank Destroyer/Anti-tank Gun

The 2S25 Sprut-SD is a self-propelled anti-tank gun developed and manufactured by the Volgograd Tractor Plant to meet the requirements of the VDV. In mid-2001, the Volgograd tractor plant revealed that the development of the 2S25 had lasted several years.

The Sprut-SD is designed to defeat tanks, hard-skinned material and enemy manpower by airborne and amphibious landing forces, as well as by specially designated units of ground forces. Its 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. As of 2011 the only operators of the 2S25 are the Russian airborne troops with 24 of these vehicles in service. The South Korean and Indian militaries have expressed interest in acquiring the 2S25 Sprut-SD.

The 2S25 is based on the chassis of the BMD-3 Infantry fighting vehicle, which is also produced by the Volgograd tractor factory and is in service with the Russian airborne troops. Notable distinctions from the BMD-3 are the armament, the fire control system and the addition of two wheels to each side of the vehicle; which increases the number to seven on each side. The crew is located at the front of the chassis. The turret and ammunition occupies the middle of the vehicle, while the engine-transmission compartment is towards the rear.

The driver has a hatch on the front deck; the commander and gunner have hatches on the turret deck. In the stowed position, the commander sits to the right of the driver, while the gunner sits to the left. Each crew member has available built-in roof observant instruments with the day and night channels. Standard equipment includes an electronic NBC protection system to ensure survivability of the crew in case of nuclear fallout.

The 2S25 Sprut-SD is equipped with a two-man turret armed with a 125 mm anti-tank gun. The gun is fitted with an autoloader, which ensures the high rate of fire of 6−8 rounds per minute with both conventional projectiles and rounds with guided missiles. It is completely stabilized in the vertical and horizontal planes and conducts fire with the same 125 mm separate case ammunition loadings that are used for the 2A46 smoothbore tank gun.

With the fire control system featuring this stabilization of the elevation and azimuth, it also includes a laser rangefinder and a ballistic computer that provides ever-changing data about the target. The two-plane stabilization of the commander’s sight is aligned with the laser sight for aiming the 125 mm shells onto the laser rangefinder.

The main armament of the 2S25 is a 125 mm smoothbore 2A75 tank gun, which is a derivative of the 125 mm 2A46 tank gun installed on Russian main battle tanks.

The angles of elevation and depression for the anti-tank gun are +15° and −5° respectively. When aimed towards the stern of the vehicle, the elevation and depression of the gun changes to +17° and −3° respectively. Given the need to install a gun to a substantially lighter chassis, designers created a new recoil device with a new ejector and thermal insulation jacket; it lacks a muzzle brake.

The 2A75’s ammunition includes laser guided missiles like the 9M119 Svir, which have a maximum range of 4 km, for defeating armored targets. Reloading the main gun is completed by means of a horizontal autoloader mounted behind the turret. It can carry 40 rounds for the main armament, with 22 ready to use in the autoloader. In case the autoloader is no longer intact, manual loading is possible at the cost of a substantially longer reload time.

A coaxial 7.62 mm PKT machine gun mounted to the left side of the main armament serves as the secondary armament of the 2S25; equipped with one tape of 2000 rounds.

The Sprut-SDM1 is a new version of the original 2S25 Sprut-SD, featuring fire-control system and remote weapon station.

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