The Indian Army has started finding replacements for their Maruti Suzuki Gypsy. This is because Gypsy is quite old now. The SUV has been on duty for the past two decades. The last units of the Gypsy were delivered to the army in late 2020 and they were ordered in multiple batches. The Indian Army will be replacing the over 35,000 Gypsys in a phased manner, over the coming months. They were using the 4×4 soft-top version of the Gypsy till now.
The Army also has Safari Storme GS800 which is a five-door SUV. It will continue to serve the Indian Army. Tata Motors supplied 3,000 Safari Storme SUVs to the army. The manufacturer also showcased an Army-specific three-door, soft-top Safari Storme at the Defence Expo in Chennai. This could also be a Gypsy replacement. However, Tata Motors has stopped producing Safari Storme after BS6 emission norms kicked in.
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The Indian Army is looking for a soft-top SUV with a 4×4 drivetrain so that it can be used in tough situations like mountains etc. A soft top is important so that the soldiers can use their guns, mobile communication systems and rifles. A soft-top also allows easy movement of Quick Reaction Teams. The companies would be allowed to present a new vehicle that should be based on an existing platform.
Tata Safari Storme GS800
The Safari Storme GS800 has a payload capacity of 800 kgs. Hence, the name GS800. It should be able to maintain a ground clearance of 200 mm while carrying 800 kgs. Because of this, the ground clearance was increased. To handle the extra weight the suspension setup was retuned. So, it now rides stiffer. There is a new heavy-duty rear axle so that it can tackle the tough conditions that the SUV would have to face. Moreover, the rear drum brakes were replaced by disc brakes.
The engine is the same 2.2-litre turbocharged Varicor 400 diesel engine so it produces 154 PS of max power and 400 Nm of peak torque. It comes mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox. However, the trial vehicles that were given to the army came with a lower state of tune and a 5-speed gearbox. They produced 140 Ps of max power and 320 Nm of peak torque. The Safari GS800 comes with a 4-wheel drive transfer case that drives all four wheels, both in low and high range modes.
The SUV had to go through rigorous weather testing so that it can perform in every climatic condition. It was tested at Jamshedpur for hot weather, at North Sikkim for cold weather and in Hashimara for rain trials. There were some changes made to the exterior also. It came with military green colour, towing hooks, a flag hoisting mount, jerry can mount etc. This mount can carry a can of up to 20 litres in capacity.
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