US expresses interest in Indian mine-protected vehicle

US expresses interest in Indian mine-protected vehicle
New Delhi, Aug 2 (PTI) The US defence department has evinced keen interest in an indigenous mine-protected vehicle that the army is set to induct for anti-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Aditya vehicle was developed with know-how from Isreal and will be inducted by the army by November to provide increased protection to troops engaged in counter-terrorism operations.

The army has projected a requirement for 1,400 such vehicles and given the green signal to induct 300.

Official sources said the US authorities had expressed interest in the vehicle mainly due to its ability to withstand an explosion of up to 10 tonnes of TNT, far beyond the capability of any similar vehicle.

But the Americans, who are eyeing these specialised vehicles apparently to cope with increased car bomb attacks in Iraq, will have to wait.

B P Bapu, joint general manager of the ordnance factory in Medak that produces the Aditya, said the army had ordered a large number of vehicles and the unit could not aspire for any export orders now.

Bapu said the mine-protected vehicle was displayed during army chief Gen J J Singh's recent visit to the central Indian garrison town of Mhow.

The army, which now uses the South African Casspir mine-protected vehicles, has asked the Medak factory to step up the production of the Aditya.

The army, which has 70 to 80 Casspirs, has projected a need for 400 to 500 such vehicles under its modernisation programme to cope with mine attacks in Jammu and Kashmir.

Under a memorandum of understanding signed with Israel, the ordnance factory in Medak has achieved the capability of producing 20 mine-protected vehicles a month.

Army sources said the first batch of Aditya vehicles would be deployed with the Udhampur-based Northern Command because of frequent terrorist attacks in the area in its jurisdiction.

Aditya can carry 12 armed troops and has a remote-controlled 7.62mm machine gun.

The paramilitary forces too have evinced interest in acquiring these vehicles for their operations against Naxals.

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