India is in advanced-stage talks with Russia to acquire its newly-developed Sprut light tanks. The move comes amid tensions at the Indo-China border in the high-altitude region of Ladakh.
In a deal worth $68 million, India is preparing to obtain nearly two dozen of these tanks in the first tranche and the process of acquiring these tanks is likely to be finalised by the end of this year, reported the Economic Times on Monday.
Talks to buy these tanks, which are under trial in Russia, began in July amid increasing tension at the Line of Actual Control - the de facto border between Indian and China - in April this year. India has increased its military presence in the region by deploying heavy T-90 tanks, weighing about 46 tonnes, in Ladakh, besides T-72 tanks, which weigh around 45 tonnes.
Sprut will provide an additional option to the Indian army as the 18 ton lightweight tank can be airlifted by choppers and transport aircraft in difficult mountainous terrain. China has deployed its new lightweight tanks to the area, the Type 15, which weigh around 33 tonnes.
Previously, India used light tanks during the 1962 Indo-China war, but these were gradually phased out.
The government-run Defence Research and Development Organisation is also developing a lightweight version of the K9 ‘Vajra’ 155 mm self-propelled howitzer mounted on a 35-tonne tank.