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Amidst India’s push for self-reliance in defence, a unique image has captured the nation’s attention. The Indian Army has showcased an Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) mounted on a farm tractor.

Recently, Indian Army’s Western Command shared pictures featuring this innovative setup on X (formerly Twitter). While some lauded the ingenuity, others mocked the idea. But what exactly makes this ATGM special, and why was it mounted on a tractor?

Why Mount an ATGM on a Tractor?

The primary reason for choosing a tractor lies in its versatility. Tractors can navigate various terrains effortlessly, whether it’s a desert, swamp, forest, or paved road. This makes them ideal for deployment along the challenging Pakistan border near Punjab and Gujarat. Moreover, tractors are excellent at camouflage. In forests or deserts, they can blend in seamlessly, providing a strategic advantage for surprise attacks on enemy bunkers, tanks, or armored vehicles.

Indian farmers often work in fields close to the Pakistani border in Punjab, Gujarat, and Rajasthan. In the event of a conflict, such as the 1965 war, this tractor-ATGM setup could allow for covert missile attacks from the cover of fields and trees. However, unlike the heavily armored Infantry Combat Vehicles (ICVs) or BMPs, soldiers on tractors are more exposed, making them reliant on natural cover for protection.

The Need for Innovation

The Indian Army is in dire need of a wheeled armored platform, specifically the Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV). These new vehicles would be modern, advanced, and more lethal than the current BMP-2 armored vehicles, which require upgrades. Until these new vehicles are available, the improvised tractor-mounted ATGMs offer a stopgap solution.

Western Command’s Display

The Western Command’s social media post included photographs from a recent visit by GOC Kharga Corps Lieutenant General Rahul Singh to the Jessore Brigade in Punjab. During this visit, the brigade showcased some of its innovative solutions, including the tractor-mounted ATGM. Equipped with a Konkurs ATGM launcher, this setup can destroy tanks from distances ranging from 40 meters to four kilometers.

Global Examples

India is not alone in such innovative military adaptations. Last year, North Korea displayed numerous tractor-mounted ATGMs during its annual military parade. North Korea’s tense relationship with South Korea and the presence of the heavily fortified DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) necessitate such innovations.

Similarly, during the early weeks of the Russia-Ukraine war, Ukrainian farmers were seen towing abandoned Russian tanks with their tractors. This demonstrates how local ingenuity can play a crucial role in wartime scenarios.

Armies worldwide, including India’s, use All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) for challenging terrains. However, local units often adapt and modify equipment to meet their specific needs. The tractor-ATGM is a prime example of this improvisational spirit, blending traditional agricultural machinery with modern military technology to guard the nation’s borders effectively.

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