SPG wants counter-assault vehicles for VVIP convoys

With the growing threat perception that VVIP convoys could be target of terror attacks, the Special Protection Group (SPG) plans to induct counter-assault vehicles in convoys carrying the Prime Minister and other VVIPs like Congress president Sonia Gandhi and general secretary Rahul Gandhi to preempt such attacks.

Sources said the SPG has sought approval to buy 10 Defence Sherpa-2 counter assault vehicles and 6 Defence Sherpa-2 quick reaction team vehicles from Renault Trucks Defense at a cost of nearly Rs 51 crore.

Sherpa-2 (now Sherpa Light Scout) is a 4x4 tactical and light armoured vehicle customised with ballistic, mine and improvised explosive devices kits for tactical missions such as scouting, patrol and convoy escort. It is a high mobility vehicle, able to cross any obstacle including gradients of up to 100 per cent and can carry 5 persons.

The SPG zeroed on Renault's Sherpa considering the high degree of customisation it desired for both vehicles due to the enormity of the threat perception. However, due to single vendor price quote, the purchase needs approval of a committee comprising Cabinet Secretary and National Security Advisor, sources said.

They said the security beef-up follows information that the militant jihadi groups were working on daring and direct suicidal attacks on moving VIP convoys using Al-Qaeda ambush manuals that advocate a mix of gunfire initiation and multiple IEDs.

"We plan to have these counter-offensive and quick reaction teams ready before the 2014 elections as some of the special protectees would be travelling by road to hinterlands," said an SPG official.

In rural areas and highways, IEDs are usually initiated at a choke point where the vehicle is likely to be forced to slow down. After the IED is triggered, a gun team engages the convoy while a third team of operatives using a rocket-propelled grenade team waiting under cover fires a rocket grenade and escapes.

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