CHENNAI: City-based auto giant, Ashok Leyland, largest supplier of logistic vehicles to defence-stallion in the world, is making its foray into manufacturing bullet-proof armored vehicles for the police and paramilitary forces.
A top official of the company told Express that the auto giant has already bagged orders from Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir police. Talks are also in the final-stage to supply bullet-proof vehicles to paramilitary forces for use in naxal-affected areas.
Revealing the company’s plans of expanding their defence business, Amandeep Singh, Head (Defence), said on the sidelines of a global conference - 2017 ‘Conquer New Frontiers’, that J&K police had asked for seven vehicles and Punjab placed orders for 11. Production of the vehicles had started in the Hosur plant.
He said from 2014 when the Union government floated ‘Make in India’ programme, the company had won 19 tenders out of a total 25. “Earlier, we were manufacturing only 4x4 Stallion vehicles. Now, the company has moved to gun towers, missile carriers, high mobility vehicles and ammunition carriers. About 30 per cent of defence budget is potentially available for Indian companies. The company hopes to indigenously develop 50 per cent of current imports. In the last one year, defence business of the company had increased by 60 per cent and in the next five years we see a six-fold increase,” Singh said.
The company had also scaled-up the operations of proto plant in Ennore. Only a couple of days back, Indian army had placed orders for developing two prototype Mine Protective Vehicles (MPV), being designed and developed at proto shop in Ennore in collaboration with Vehicle Factory at Jabalpur. “Once, the army successfully tests the vehicle, bulk manufacturing will be carried out in Hosur plant,” he said.
On international collaborations, Singh said “We collaborate depending upon the programmes. Asked by Indian army, we have an arrangement with US-based Lockheed Martin. For truck driving simulators that ply on challenging terrains, we have joined hands with Swedish SAAB.”
Ashok Leyland is also emerging as a strong player in upgrading the BMP tanks, amphibious tracked infantry fighting vehicles. The current fleet is completely Russian made and pretty old. “The engineers are evaluating the progress of BMP tank performance that is fitted with high-power Neptune engine and an automatic transmission unit. Besides engine, the entire drive train is being upgraded, including gear box, armament etc. The idea is to reduce the dependency on Russia for spare parts,” Singh said.