The system is capable of moving on and off road and can serve as a 24-metre long and 3.6-metre wide floating bridge

Dazzling display of India’s military might and the indigenous engineering excellence on the Republic Day leaves millions awe-struck every year.

Much of it is courtesy the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and its industrial partners. Nevertheless, the defence establishment is not always appreciative of the technological feats.

In 2001, DRDO entrusted one of its exclusive development partners, TIL Ltd, to come up with an amphibian vehicle, which has steel body but capable of ferrying a 42-tonne main battle tank.

In 18 months flat, TIL delivered two such units.

The indigenously developed system is capable of moving on and off road and can serve as a 24-metre long and 3.6-metre wide fully decked floating bridge within 9 minutes. The two-axle vehicle, during the DRDO technical trials, could achieve on-road speed of 50 kmph and 35 kmph cross-country.

Its twin pump jets allow the vehicle to move on water at a speed of 2.7 metre per second and let it manoeuvre – reverse, lateral and yawing. Two or more such vehicles can be joined to meet logistic challenges in war or disaster management situations.

The lone competitor, a French company, produces such a vehicle with its hull and bridge made of aluminium at a higher cost. Considering Indian defence’s preference for high strength steel, the DRDO and TIL developed this unmatched system.

The two units, conceived as “technology demonstrators”, realised the status of prototypes after trials.

The unique vehicle technology was showcased as the pride of the nation on 57th Republic Day parade. However, the vehicle has not yet got a chance to serve the nation.

“The unit was paraded from Raisina Hills to Red Fort for the nation, but over a decade, there has not been a single order for the vehicle”, Sumit Mazumder, MD of TIL told Business Line.

(This article was published on January 31, 2014)
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