Monday, December 8, 2008

Mahindra Defence's AXE 4 x 4 FAV


During DEFEXPO 2008 last February, India’s three principal automotive giants—TATA Motors, Ashok Leyland and Mahindra Defence Systems (MDS)—unveilled several new wheeled armoured vehicles that are being offered to the armed forces of both India as well as several other African countries. TATA’s 1.2-tonne light specialist vehicle (LSV) has been designed as a single platform capable of undertaking diverse missions such as reconnaissance, counter-insurgency operations for special forces and even as an ambulance. The LSV has an adaptive automatic transmission, 60% gradeability, 300mm vertical obstacle climbing ability, 45% approach angle, 45% departure angle, 255mm ground clearance, can operate in a temperature range of –20 degree to +55 degree Celsius, and has a maximum speed of 105kph. The light armoured troop carrier (LATC) with RCWS (remote-controlled weapon station) is designed for movement of troops of Section-level strength for counter-insurgency operations. The vehicle protects the troops against small arms fire and is fitted with bulletproof glass. The LATC’s floor is protected against hand-grenade blasts. The vehicle also has a split-air conditioning unit for crew comfort, is fitted with suspended seats and has seat belts for additional safety. The fuel tank is filled with explosive suppression material. The 8 x 8 developed by TATA is capable of being configured to a host of military applications for missile/weapon carriage/towing stations; housing surveillance equipment, communications and electronic warfare platforms, and bridge laying kits; carrying MBTs; serving as medium recovery vehicles; housing mobile specialist workshops; and serving as hook loaders and load carriers. The vehicle comes powered by a powerful 380-420hp diesel engine and a versatile 9-16 speed gearbox, with heavy-duty transfer cases driving the hub reduction tandem axles to address the requirements of high speeds and severe gradients. An optional automatic transmission is also available in this range. The compensating bogey suspension, capable of operating under severe terrain conditions with full air brakes having optional ABS, takes on a heavy-duty frame. The vehicle is also fitted with a tiltable military cabin with good all around visibility, and is compatible to up-armouring.

Ashok Leyland’s competing 4 x 4 LSV is an all-wheel drive, multi-purpose vehicle with a power-to-weight ratio in excess of 25kW/tonne. The fixed windscreen on the driver’s side enhances driver comfort without being exposed to the vagaries of nature, while the drop-down windscreen on the left side enables the commander to fire the LMG in a wide arc from his command post. A conveniently located trap-door facilitates easy operation of the LAW launcher. This aircraft/helicopter transportable vehicle also has a collapsible tent on the right side. Communications is ensured by a radio with its own power source. The LSV can carry a crew of four besides the driver and the commander, and can be made self-contained with sufficient rations, water, utensils, stove, bedding, etc. A night vision system using a thermal imaging camera offers the driver vision enhancement during night and the ability to detect, recognise and identify the objects on road in zero-light conditions. The electronic image can be viewed on a display screen conveniently positioned so that the driver does not have to take his eyes off the road to navigate. It also facilitates manoeuvrability in the most severely degraded visual conditions caused by smoke, fog, dust and such like for carrying out logistics as well as frontline operations. The LSV is currently undergoing trials at the Vehicle Research & Development Establishment in Ahmednagar, and also at Leh for high-altitude, peak winter trials. The Stallion 6 x 6 is a high-mobility alternative to the popular Stallion 4 x 4 in desert and sandy conditions. It is an all-wheel-drive version that meets Indian Army GSQR requirements in terms of power-to-weight ratio and other parameters. It is powered by an 8-litre engine developing 260hp at 2,500rpm. It has a maximum torque of 745NM at 1,500rpm. The transmission comprises a hydraulically operated 380 dia Valeo clutch and a 6-speed synchromesh ZF gearbox (6S 850). A fully-built vehicle, it comes with a suitable load body and gives excellent mobility in extremely difficult underfoot conditions, including deserts. The Integral Power Steering reduces driver fatigue. The vehicle also has a hydraulic hoist for self-loading and unloading of ammunition, apart from a winch that can be used for self-recovery. It has a mud tracking capability of 330mm and can attain maximum speeds in excess of 90kph. Provision for external starting of the engine is available. Following rigorous trials over varied terrains and climatic conditions, the Stallion 6 x 6 has been approved for induction into the Indian armed forces. The 6 x 6 field artillery tractor (FAT) is a common gun tower and is designed to meet the future needs of the armed forces. The FAT is ideal for towing 155mm field artillery howitzers. The continuous all-wheel drive ensures high mobility across various terrains, including sand. A centralised tyre inflation mechanism enables the driver to vary the tyre pressure to suit different terrain. There is also the option of run-flat tyres. The FAT is powered by a 430hp engine, but engine options of up to 500hp are available. It is fitted with cab and crew cabs (with air conditioning as optional) that have been indigenously developed by Automotive Coaches & Components Ltd (ACCL), an associate company of Ashok Leyland. The option of an armoured cab is available too. The FAT has a hydraulic crane for self-loading and unloading. It is also fitted with a 16-tonne winch for recovery and self-recovery.

MDS’ AXE 4 x 4 fast attack vehicle, or FAV, has a 2,700cc Ssangyong engine, which generates 173bhp at 4,000rpm and a healthy 340NM of torque at 1,800rpm. It also has fully independent suspensions on all four wheels and comes in a petrol-engined variant as well. It is being offered to meet an Indian Army requirement for an initial 228 LSVs that are meant for the Reconnaissance Platoons of the mechanised infantry battalions. The Marksman is India’s first armoured capsule-based light bulletproof vehicle and is designed to provide protection against small arms fire and under-belly grenade attacks. It can also be used for conventional roles such as armed reconnaissance and convoy protection. The Mahindra Striker is a new-generation general-purpose light military vehicle, while the RG-31 mine-protected vehicle—being offered by Mahindra jointly with BAE Systems, is built to protect personnel against small arms and mines/IEDs. MDS is now at an advanced stage of setting up a special military vehicles (MSMV) facility at Faridabad. This facility will have advanced facilities for in-house R & D, prototype fabrication and systems integration of vehicles for military use.--
Prasun K. Sengupta

23 comments:

Max said...

@Prasun

Do you have any brochures of Ashok Leyland's / Tata's offerings? If you do, please upload them.

Apart from Mahindra's Axe, what others are in the line up for the initial 228 LSVs required by the army? Is Hummer offered?

Has Tata offered the 8X8 vehicle to the army to fill in any requirement? Please brief on the status. I've seen it and it looks really cool. Hopefully it replaces the Tatra.

Another question regarding ATV: who will man it once completed? Since it's DRDO's project will DRDO personnel form its crew or navy men?

Anonymous said...

hey thanks for d article so soon!

vinay

Anonymous said...

What happened to the comparative trials between M&M Axe, Tata LSV and Ashok Leyland's offering, that the army was conducting?

****** said...

prasun, how much does a mahindra axe cost? what transmissioon does it use? will the indian army's requirement be hard top versions or a skeleton like in the brouchure?

Anonymous said...

is TATA offering land rover too prasun?

since its theirs..

if mahindra buys chrysler they need not use cheap korean engines to power axe any longer.

Max said...

@Prasun

Another thing; there has been quite a lot of speculation in forums that this Axe is based on an Israeli vehicle design and has been designed by an Israeli. In fact Mahindra doesn't deny "external assistance" in this project. Please have your say on this.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

Max, regretably I don't have the brochuresd from TATA and Ashok Leyland, but their websites have all the information that you will find useful. The Hummer is not being offered. Yes the TATA 8 x 8 heavy tow-truck/ammo resupply vehicle is on offer to the Army and the Strategic Forces Command for (guess what!) replacing those Saab tow-trucks that were shamelessly paraded by the DRDO on January 26 this year for towing the Agni-3 TEL!!!

Once the ATV is ready for sea trials a DRDO-led team of civilians will be responsible for manning it and maintaining it. Needless to say, several ex- (not serving) Navy personnel with technical backgrounds will form a substantial part of the on-board crew complement. It is more or less similar to the arrangements made by ADA and HAL for flight-testing the Tejas LCA. Meanwhile, there is a lot of work to be done to create and man shore-based nuclear safety establishments specific to the ATV. The same also goes for the futuristic operational SSBN bases that will be required for hosting the projected SSBN/SSGN fleets. Rest assured, I'll keep you in mind and recommend your EIA expertise to the MoD which will definitely be reqd before such bases are built (LOL!!!). So, take a no and queue up for such upcoming contracts, which definitely will not be tendered out, but will be directly negotiated. My company will bid for the naval base landscapping contracts (yes, I've made money in the past by selling quick-growing green grass for such contracts!).

To Anons Above: I've no idea about the procurement costs of the AXE. The Land Rover Defender 4 x 4 is not on offer.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

Yes, the AXE very much has Israeli content. In fact, a remotely operated variant of the AXE can be equipped with a raisable mast-mounted optronic sensor and related data link antennae for tactical recce of the battleground.

Max said...

@Prasun,

Wow! Lucky you! You sell grass to Indians and get a quick buck out of it! I thought you're in the aerospace business, aren't you? I didn't know you do landscaping.

Whether it's selling greens or providing consultation, I've had enough doing business with India. So please keep me out of this.

Anyway are the tender documents out? (No, not that I wanna bid, just asking).

By the way it wasn't a Saab truck towing the trailer with the Agni 3 missile, it was a Volvo. It would really be good if they can replace their Volvo and Tatra fleet with some local ones. There are ample Indian truck makers. Tata, AL, Asia Motorworks, Eicher etc. In fact recently Mahindra went into a joint venture with Navistar International to produce trucks.

Max said...

@Prasun

Another thing, this appeared sometime back but I have not heard anything in recent times. India was developing a system called KALI (Kilo-Ampere Linear Injector), a kind of high power microwave director to take down hostile aircraft / misiles. What's the status of that?

Anonymous said...

muhahaha, copycat brochure weilding Prasun got confused about the swedish origin truck Volvo, and borrowed the letter S form another Swedish truck used by the Army - Scania as the Bofors gun tractor, and invented a trailer from Saab - a Swedish CAR MANUFACTURER owned by GM.

Gr8 job Prasun, you just gave Saab an entirely new product category - hope this rescues parent GM from bankruptcy.
muhahaha, muhahaha, muhahaha

Max said...

@anon 10:52:00 AM

LOL, relax man. Everyone makes mistakes. But you really gave me a good laugh :) "(you just gave Saab an entirely new product category - hope this rescues parent GM from bankruptcy)"

Prasun K Sengupta said...

muhahaha, muhahaha, muhahaha.... I always tend to mix up Saab with Volvo and Scania. The only reason I tend to remember TATRA so distinctly is its LHD configuration every time it is shown either during Republic Day, or during Army Day or during DEFEXPO and Aero India expos or one of those innumerable glorifications of the BrahMos. Therefore, Anon@10:52AM, stop gloating lest the KALI targets you with a directed microwave-energy beam!! (LOL)

Max said...

@Prasun

Ok so what is the status of KALI mate?

Prasun K Sengupta said...

It has already been deployed mate.

Max said...

Wow really, that's great! I never came across any news on it!

And are the tender documents out for the proposed SSBN base?

Prasun K Sengupta said...

No tendering process. It will be via direct negotiations with a pre-identified party. That will happen only AFTER 2015, AFTER it has been technologically established that the ATV can indeed form the basis for building operational SSGNs and the SSBN. There's no need to rush, therefore, on building the two planned SSBN/SSGN bases.

Anonymous said...

Where and how has the KALI been deployed? How about an article on the KALI detailing what is it, working principle, estimated capabilities and operational uses etc etc.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

All in good time. In the meantime, enjoy the latest post.

Max said...

Yes that would be more practical. The contract would most likely go to one of the construction monopolies in India.

Anyway good luck in selling grass / landscaping!

Anonymous said...

macha, the tata 8 by 8 doesnt look suitable to tow missiles but to replace the tatra for pinaka and other systems because it a rugged kind of truck like tatra.

for towing missiles on tarmac any normal 6 wheeler tower would do...

and my question is what r they gonna do with the Volvos they have already bought? they are excellent trucks... why replace them? since they have already bought, then use them until it becomes unusable.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

Macha, the TATA-built heavyduty truck was originally developed to be used as an ammunition resupply vehicle. I can bet with you that the vehicle will NEVER be used for the Pinaka MBRL because the prime contractor for Pinaka is OFB and BEML, also being a defence PSU, will never be replaced by the MoD as the supplier of the Pinaka-related vehicles, no matter how good the TATA-built vehicles are! You are of course aware of the industrial spat going on between L & T and BEML, with the latter insisting that it and not L & T has the right to assemble and integrate the Pinaka MBRL's launch tubes with the Tatra LHD truck! In my view any RHD truck (from TATA or Ashok Leyland or Mahindra Defence) is any day much better than the LHD Tatras. As for the Volvo tow trucks, they won;t be replaced. The Army needs new tow trucks and ammo resupply vehicles for the SOLTAM/OFB-upgraded M-46H 155mm/45-cal towed howitzers.

Anonymous said...

nandri macha