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India to Develop Unmanned Tank for Desert Warfare

India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is planning to develop an unmanned ground combat vehicle based on the country’s Arjun Mk 1A main battle tank.

The state-backed organization’s laboratory, the Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment, has proposed the design, development, and field validation of the project. 

The Chennai-based lab has been developing a range of unmanned vehicles since 2007 with payloads for surveillance, reconnaissance, and mine detection missions. The new vehicles will be based on the 3 x BMP-II armored personnel carrier. 

Indian Army Requirements 

The Indian Army last year released requirements for unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) to assist better soldiers operating in high-altitude areas

According to the requirement, the vehicles should support “surveillance, tactical reconnaissance, targeting enemy positions, delivering critical supplies, and carrying out rapid evacuations.”

This proposed vehicle will be developed to operate in the country’s desert terrain along the western border with Pakistan, where the 70-ton-Mk 1A primarily operates. 

Like the Mk 1A, this unmanned combat vehicle will have a 120 mm gun as its main weapon. 

Pointing out the key challenges the project could face — such as the development of “route planning over long distances (far beyond the perceptual ranges of the onboard sensors)” — the DRDO has proposed an in-house Indigenous Geographic Information System (INDIGIS) to provide the vehicle’s operator its location and the visual perspective of the terrain where the vehicle is located.

INDIGIS will also provide a route map for the vehicle to reach an “operator-defined target location.”

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