India’s military has a proud record of being one of the leading contributors to United Nations Peacekeeping Operations (UNPKO) all over the world. They have displayed exceptional bravery with one officer — Captain Gurbachan Singh Salaria — winning the highest gallantry award, the Param Vir Chakra, after laying down his life in a pitched battle with Congolese rebels in 1961.
Yet, until recently, Indian contingents used to go into international peacekeeping missions equipped with shoddy, second-hand equipment that contrasted with the gleaming weaponry carried by other militaries.
All that is changing as Indian vehicle and equipment suppliers have begun producing world-class kit. On Monday, Bharat Forge handed over 16 world-class, made-in-India Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs), called the Kalyani M4, to the Indian Army for UNPKOs.
According to the defence ministry, the Kalyani M4 is a “Quick Reaction Fighting Vehicle (Heavy), indigenously manufactured by Bharat Forge and capable of carrying an infantry section (10 soldiers) in full combat gear. The Kalyani M4 successfully completed a series of extreme vehicle trials in some of the toughest environments in India. Trials were conducted in the freezing terrains of Leh and Ladakh, and the unforgiving deserts of Rann of Kutch.
“The Kalyani M4s are state-of-the-art APCs that provide unprecedented levels of protection to the occupants against high kinetic energy threats including severe mine blasts and grenades,” said a Kalyani Group press release.
Instead of exposing infantry troops to fire from jungles, built up areas, and improvised explosive devices buried in mud roads, up to 10 soldiers can travel protected from blasts. “The (Kalyani M4) vehicle can withstand three tri-nitro-toluene charges under the wheels and one 50 kg IED blast at one side,” stated the media release.
That amounts to a STANAG-3 rated protection for the crew and the infantry soldiers inside, said Colonel Rajinder Bhatia (Retired), the defence business chief of the Kalyani Group.
With a combat radius of approximately 800 kms, the Kalyani M4 brings to bear its combat power, in minimum time, in all types of terrain. It is equipped with modern optics and sighting equipment that provide the crew inside with full-time situational awareness. The APC is powered by a 460 Horsepower engine from Cummins.
“The Kalyani M4 today is the best mobility platform available in the world and variants such as the ambulance and command post vehicles have been delivered to the Indian Army in the past,” said Bharat Forge in its media release.
The Army has placed an order for 45 Kalyani M4 APCs, while another 23 APCs are being handed over to Indian Army units that are going into UNPKOs.
“Keeping crew safety and vehicle performance as paramount factors, the Kalyani M4 has been ergonomically and aesthetically designed to allow the crew to perform their duties in an optimum manner,” stated Amit Kalyani, deputy managing director of Bharat Forge.