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Paramount Group looking at expanding sourcing from India

Bharat Forge Limited which has supplied 60 of its M4 armoured vehicles to the Army, some of which have been deployed in eastern Ladakh since the standoff, is set to supply another 30 vehicles while also looking at exports. The M4 is also getting a firepower upgrade with the addition of Spike Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM) on the request of the Army, according to company officials, and plans are under way to upgrade the existing 30mm gun to a 76mm gun.

“We have delivered 60 M4s to the Indian Army till date including some sent for United Nations Peace Keeping missions. We are looking for another order of 30 vehicles and expect further orders. There are also orders coming in from abroad,” a company official said at DefExpo-2022 held in Gandhinagar last week. This will become the main troop carrier in dangerous territories, the official remarked.

Anticipating further demand, Bharat Forge is ramping production capacity to 100 vehicles a year. There were several enquiries from foreign delegations during the DefExpo, company officials said.

In 2020, as the standoff began with China in eastern Ladakh, the Army went scouting for troop carrying vehicles offering better mobility and protection in high altitude areas and evaluated several vehicles fielded by Indian companies. The Army has since placed orders for protected troop carriers from Bharat Forge and TATA Group.

Bharat Forge had entered into collaboration with global aerospace and technology company Paramount Group which shared its Intellectual Property (IP) of its vehicles. Speaking at DefExpo, Paramount Group Founder Ivor Ichikowitz said they were looking at making India one of their primary partners. “We have collaborated with Kalyani Group to build a range of systems for the world. We believe that India can become one of the largest defence exporters and so we invested here,” he said.

In this regard, stating that their current order book is close to $1bn, Mr. Ichikowitz said he believes that a third of their sourcing could be done from India.

On the M4, Mr. Ichikowitz said it was 100% made in India. It was extensively redesigned by Kalyani in India and was about 95% indigenous, he stated. Stating that the India specification of M4 was the most advanced version available, he added, “It is not only an opportunity for Indian forces but also export. We are collaborating with Kalyani for a portfolio of orders for M4 from Central Asia, Africa and Middle East.”

Bharat Forge described the ‘Kalyani M4’ as a quick reaction fighting vehicle designed to meet the specific requirements of armed forces for quick mobility in rough terrain and in areas affected by mine and IED threats. It is capable of carrying an Infantry Platoon in full combat gear.

In February 2021, Bharat Forge announced that it has received an order from Defence Ministry under emergency procurement worth ₹117.95 crore to supply its Kalyani M4 mine protection vehicles to the Army. The deal was for 27 vehicles according to Army sources. The Army has since placed further orders for these vehicles.

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