2S25 Sprut Coming to Ladakh? This Could Be India’s Next Battle Tank
Following brief clashes with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in mid-June,Indian Defence Ministry is seeking to acquire a light mountain-friendly battle tank capable of better operating near the country’s northern borders. This has come as part of a wider trend in the Indian military over the past month towards prioritising acquiring weapons systems with a conflict with the PLA in mind, with the Defence Ministry’s previous priority having been its security challenges in Kashmir and from neighbouring Pakistan to the West. While India’s tank forces are among the most sophisticated and capable in the world, with the country operating several thousand T-72 and T-90 platforms and having recently placed multiple orders for T-90MS platforms, these tanks are not ideally suited to combat in the extreme conditions of the northern border regions.
Where India lacks a suitable mountain tank, China has developed what is widely considered the world’s most capable platform for such a role, the new Type 15 tank, which is currently deployed in considerable numbers under the PLA’s Western Theatre Command facing India. An issue for India in seeking a light tank to counter the Type 15 is that few platforms of this kind are currently operational. One option for would be to look to North Korea, which has developed tanks heavily optimised for mountain warfare due to its own topography and has exported its armour in the past. Korea has previously sold arms to potential Chinese adversaries such as Vietnam, and even offered to sell attack submarines to Taiwan, but India’s willingness to purchase a Korean platform, given the expectation of harsh repercussions from Western powers, remains questionable. One potentially promising alternative which has emerged is the Russian 2S25 Sprut-SD light tank, which though not developed specifically for mountain warfare is light enough to prove useful in mountainous regions.
The Sprut-SD is operated solely by the Russian Airborne Forces and entered service in the mid-2000s. Although designed for air drops and amphibious landings, its resulting light weight of just 18 tons makes suitable for mountain terrain, with the tank’s hydoopneumatic suspension likely to be useful. The platform is designated an amphibious tank destroyer, and carries a 125mm cannon capable of deploying APFSDS, HE-Frag, HEAT and ATGM rounds. The gun is the same calibre as that on the T-90, and larger than those on tank designs which are several times heavier such as the American M1 Abrams, which weighs 64.6 tons but only has a 120mm gun – or 105mm for older variants. This is disproportionately large for the size of the platform if it is considered as a battle tank. For protection the Sprut-SD makes use of welded aluminium armour with a composite skin, although only the frontal arc, 40° left and right of the frontal armour, can provide protection against attacks from 23mm weapons with the remainder only armoured to withstand small arms fire.
The Sprut-SD notably has more firepower than the Chinese Type 15, with the latter using only a 105mm cannon. Whether the Russian platform’s munitions will match the sophistication of those used by the Type 15, which has specialised munition types such as laser guided anti tank missiles and kinetic energy penetrators, remain uncertain. The Russian tank was designed to be able to operate in a wider range of climates than more standard heavier models like the T-90, and can use either rubber-clad shoes or snow-riding tracks to operate in mountains. Although more strongly emphasising amphibious and air dropping capabilities, the Sprut-SD is also capable of operating at extreme altitudes of up to 4000 meters. The Indian Army is expected to place orders for the Sprut-SD in the near future, and could well operate the platform in larger numbers than the Russian military itself given its more mountainous border with China – where Russia’s borders with NATO have relatively flat topographies. It remains to be seen whether India’s armed forces will employ the design for other purposes such as airborne landings, and if the country will seek to manufacture the Sprut-SD under license if placing a larger order as it has done for a number of major Russian weapons systems such as the T-90 tank and Su-30MKI heavyweight fighter.
Type 15 tank carry 105 mm main guns with shortened barrels, while the Sprut-SDM1 is armed with the 125 mm cannon that features higher muzzle velocity and lethality. The use of a guided weapon dramatically increases the platform’s distance of firing, turning it into ‘a long hand’ on the battlefield.
The second advantage of the new platform is its tactical flexibility — the Sprut-SDM1 can fire during swims. The system can also be air-transported by a heavy helicopter or a medium airlifter. The combination of light ballistic protection and high maneuverability provides the light tank with decent combat survivability.
The Sprut-SDM1 can be effectively used over rough and mountainous terrains.
Souce:- Military Magazine