The army has very specific requirements for a vehicle for its troops. It has to be four-wheel drive. It has to have adequate ground clearance to traverse rough terrain. It has to be easy to repair and durable enough to withstand plenty of abuse. Not all civilian vehicles that are sold in India can actually meet these requirements.
But there are a few that have been customized to meet the army’s needs. Just think of the potential such vehicles hold if you really wanted to modify one for your personal use. Here are some of India’s civilian vehicles that have been purpose-built for the army.
The double-cab Xenon has been purpose-built as a troop carrier. It comes with a 140 bhp 2.2 litre diesel engine with an electronic-shift four-wheel drive system. It is meant to carry out light duties for the army, mainly for transporting troops. It can seat up to 12 people. It has been given additional underbody protection.
Tata Light Armoured Vehicle
This is based on the Tata Sumo platform. It features an electric shift four-wheel drive system with a 115 bhp, 2.2 litre diesel engine. The vehicle has been given bullet proofing that can withstand light machine gun fire. The windows and windscreen too are bullet-resistant. It has been shod with all-terrain tyres for better performance off-road. This can be used as a troop carrier, tactical vehicle and field ambulance.
Tata Xenon Ambulance
This is a field ambulance for the armed forces based on the Xenon single-cab pickup. It has the standard 140 bhp, 2.2 litre diesel engine that comes with the Xenon. The ambulance has all the life-support equipment necessary for field operations.
Armoured Tata Safari
This is a bullet-proof Tata Safari that is meant for VIP movement. It can withstand light machine gun fire. The doors, windows and windscreen have been upgraded. It also has a thicker floor that can withstand a higher impact. This version of the Safari is custom built on the Tata Safari VX platform. It comes with an electric shift four-wheel drive system and a 2.2 litre diesel engine. It also has extended steps and grip rails for bodyguards to flank the vehicle.
This vehicle is a completely customized vehicle that has been built on the Tata Sumo platform. It features a four-wheel drive system with a 2.2 litre, 120 bhp engine and five-speed transmission. It is meant as a troop carrier for recce missions. The armoured cab can seat three, while the open deck is meant for observation and combat utility.
The Mahindra Marksman is a light bullet-proof vehicle that has been built on the Scorpio platform. It features a 2.5 litre, 105 bhp diesel engine with a manual-shift four-wheel drive. It has a seating capacity of six people. It is a fully armoured vehicle that can withstand grenade attacks and heavy gunfire. It also has an overhead machine-gun mount for combat and there are seven firing ports built into the sides of the vehicle. Equipment includes a reverse camera and LCD screen for the driver and it also has an AC option. It also has an independent front suspension system and rigid leaves at the rear.
The Mahindra Rakshak is a bullet-proof vehicle based on the Mahindra Commander civilian MUV. It is powered by a 2.5 litre diesel engine that puts out 75 bhp of power. It also has a manual shift four-wheel drive system and an optional AC. The Rakshak can withstand AK-47 rifle fire and also protection from grenades. Mahindra also offers the option of run-flat tyres.
Armoured Mahindra Scorpio
The armoured Scorpio is just a custom-build of the existing Scorpio meant for ferrying VIPs. It has been given bullet-proofing that can withstand light machine gun fire and floor strengthening that can withstand grenade impact. The additional armouring makes the Scorpio nearly 300 Kg heavier than it is. The third row windows have been removed and armour plating installed.
The Maruti Gypsy, besides the Mahindra Thar, is perhaps the only civilian vehicle that is sold in stock condition to both civilians and the armed-forces. The Gypsy is powered by a 1.3 litre petrol engine that puts out 80 bhp of power. It has a manual shift four-wheel drive system. The only additional equipment is the use of convoy lights on the military version.
Force Motors Gurkha (soft top)
Image courtesy: Team-bhp.com (external link)
Force Motors supplies the Gurkha soft-top as a troop carrier for the army. It is a very competent off-road vehicle with a 2.6 litre, 75 bhp diesel engine and manual shift four wheel drive with front and rear differential locks. It also comes with a snorkel which helps it in fording rivers.
Force Motors Trishul
Image courtesy: www.4wd4all.com (external link)
Based on the Force Motors Trax Gama platform, Force has custom built the Trishul for the armed forces as a tactical vehicle. It features the Gurkha’s 2.6 litre engine and over 250 mm of ground clearance. The body has bullet-proofing all around and the windows have firing ports for the troops. It can seat six people.
What do you think of these military versions of civilian vehicles? Tell us.