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Mahindra Mine Protected Vehicle-I (MPV-I)

In 2010 three teams headed by Indian largest vehicle manufacturers Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland and Mahindra introduced Mine Protected Vehicle in anticipation of Indian Ministry of Defense procurement of hundreds of new mine protected vehicles. No orders were immediately forthcoming, and local market proepscts were further clouded in 2014 when the government decided to approach the US to purchase state-of-the-art mine resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles, which the US forces might otherwise leave behind in Afghanistan after they pull-out of the country.

The 5th Defence and Naval Exhibition [DEFEXPO] in February 2008, for the first time saw a BAE Systems mine protected vehicle, the RG-31, on the Mahindra Defence stand. BAE Systems had already supplied 165 mine protected vehicles known as Casspir to the Indian Army since 1999. The companies were in discussion to jointly develop an Indian mine protected vehicle based on the highly successful RG-31. Nearly 600 RG-31 vehicles are in service with US, Canadian and a number of other forces including the United Nations. 624 RG-31 have been ordered for the Pentagons Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) program. The all-steel, welded armor, monocoque hull of the RG-31 protects occupants from anti-tank mine detonations. The vehicle is proven in operations to have saved the lives of countless crews from mines and roadside bomb attacks. With a modular interior layout the vehicle can be configured as an APC, command vehicle, ambulance, surveillance vehicle and for many other uses. In standard APC configuration, this air-conditioned vehicle carries a crew of 8-10.

"Mahindra is an enormously capable world class company with the skills to become a strong partner for BAE Systems on the development of a mine protected vehicle for India," said Mike Mendoza, BAE Systems' managing director India. "Mahindra Defence Systems is in the business of providing vehicle protection to defense forces," said Brig. Khutub Hai, chief executive of Mahindra Defence Systems. "Our cooperation with BAE Systems, who are leaders in this field, for joint production of mine protected vehicles is a strategic fit for our vehicle armoring business."

Defence Land Systems India (DLSI) delivered its first mine protected vehicle India (MPV-I) to the Jharkhand Police in August 2011. Brig. (Retd) Khutub Hai, MD & CEO, handed over the keys to B.B. Pradhan, Additional Director General of Police, Jharkhand Police, commencing fulfillment of the States order of six MPVIs. DLSI is a joint venture enterprise between Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd (74 per cent) and global defence and security company BAE Systems PLC (26 per cent).

The equipping of police forces in the Naxal-affected states with 300 MPVs will reduce casualties by some 90 per cent, argues Brigadier (retired) Khutab Hai, who heads Mahindras defence business. This year alone, almost 300 security personnel have been killed or injured in blasts from 76 improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the crude but powerful devices that insurgents have mastered.

It is built with technology and product capability transfer from BAE Systems in South Africa, the MPV-I. The vehicle combines excellent ballistic and blast protection capabilities. Built on Ural Chassis it incorporates a V shaped mono hull chassis which directs the force of the blast away from the occupants, has been tested to withstand the highest level of protection available in the country. In addition to the enhanced protection, the 6x6 vehicle has a powerful engine that ensures high mobility and can carry an entire operational team, making it ideally suited for anti-terrorist and anti-Naxal operations. DLSI has commenced serial production at Prithla, near Faridabad which has a present installed capacity of 100 MPV-I per annum.

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