India explores acquisition of 650 6x6 High Mobility Vehicles

According to an article by The Indian Express on August 10, 2023, Indian Army has initiated a Request for Information (RFI) process to procure 650 High Mobility Vehicles (HMV) featuring a 6x6 configuration and equipped with material handling cranes (MHC). The decision is grounded in the context of intensified infrastructure development and operational expansion along the northern borders during the past three years, a strategic approach that gained prominence after the border standoff with China in May 2020.
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One of the possible vehicles could be the Tata Defence Combat Support Platform 6X6 (Picture source Tata Motors)

The primary objective of this acquisition is to facilitate more efficient movement of heavy equipment, troops, and ammunition across the challenging terrains of Ladakh, Sikkim, and the desert regions along the Pakistan border.

Officials have indicated that the procurement of these HMVs (High Mobility Vehicles)  is targeted at augmenting the Army's capacity to transport heavy ammunition across diverse terrains. Furthermore, the integration of the material handling crane (MHC) is anticipated to streamline the process of loading and unloading vehicles, reducing the need for manual intervention.

Importantly, this specific configuration was previously limited to the Scania ammunition carrier trucks employed within the Bofors Artillery System. Given the aging of the Scania trucks and the absence of MHC in other trucks like Tatra and KrAZ in Indian service, this procurement initiative holds significant importance.

Furthermore, HMVs have a practical role in operational contexts, particularly in desert conditions. They are utilized for tasks such as transporting infantry troops, facilitating the movement of advancing armored columns, towing artillery guns, and conveying artillery ammunition.

The Indian Army has formally initiated a Request for Information (RFI) process to gather pertinent details from potential suppliers regarding the specified requirements for the upcoming HMVs.

In terms of specifications, these vehicles are primarily intended for transportation on paved roads and tracks. The desired HMV configuration is 6×6, designed to provide the necessary mobility for designated tasks. With a minimum payload capacity of 8,000 kg, the vehicles aim to efficiently carry substantial loads, boasting a towing capacity of at least 20 tonnes. To facilitate smooth operations, the vehicles will be equipped with Material Handling Cranes (MHC) capable of reaching and lifting ammunition pallets or substantial loads weighing a minimum of 700 kg at a distance of 9 meters.

Adaptability is also a key consideration, with the vehicles expected to be modifiable to accommodate various applications, including troop transportation, flatbed container conveyance, and specialized functions. Moreover, these vehicles are expected to demonstrate reliable performance under challenging conditions, including extreme temperatures and adverse weather scenarios.

Considering logistics, these vehicles must be compatible with Indian Air Force IL 76 and C 17 transport aircraft, as well as broad-gauge railway military bogeys. To ensure operational efficiency, the vehicles themselves are required to not exceed 24,000 kg in weight.

Powered by contemporary turbocharged diesel engines, the vehicles are mandated to have a service life of at least 15 years or cover a distance of 150,000 km, underscoring the intention to maximize their utility and value over an extended duration.