In the sixties the Indian Army was looking for a rugged Vehicle for use in the mountain regions of the Himalayas. The Chinese attack had made it imperative that the Army needed a vehicle to negotiate the Himalayan Mountain ranges and dirt tracks that abounded in that region. The Indian Army finally after necessary trials chose the Nissan P-60. This was an SUV and was manufactered at the Indian Heavy Vehicles factory at Jabalpur. It was christened as the ‘Jonga' . The vehicle derived its name from the acronym for Jabalpur Ordnance and Guncarriage Assembly.
Induction of the Jonga
Photo credit: indiajeeps.com
The Jonga gave excellent service to the Indian Army. Later it was also used by the Navy and the Air Force as well. The Air Force police also used the Jonga and after stripping it down, used it for piloting duties. The Jonga was a real military vehicle and people who have driven it will vouchsafe for its reliability and maneuverability. The vehicle was modified by the army and put to use as an ambulance, signal vehicle, troop carrier and commanding officers vehicle.
The vehicle had an advantage of high ground clearance and thus could easily traverse cross-country and also move with ease in places where there were no roads. Its 4×4 version negotiated the high Himalayan ranges with ease. The Jonga supported a six cylinder engine that devolved 110hp, which gave it sufficient power for its tasks.
Phasing Out of The Jonga
Production of the Jonga continued till 1999 when it was replaced with the Mahindra jeep. The original Jonga had a 3 speed gear box, but it was very sensitive to handle. The army equipped their infantry units with the Jonga and it also served in multifarious roles.
The Jonga also served in the deserts of Rajasthan, where it was painted in Khaki shade. Its engine despite the intense temperatures of the desert never heated up. The Jonga with its olive-green paint was a hit in the forests of Assam and played a significant role in the attack on East Pakistan in a logistic role. However no AC version of the Jonga appeared. The Jonga is now phased out, but many a service officer will still like to own one of these rugged machines, which can now only be bought at Army auctions of Class E Vehicles. These are vehicles that are phased out as being beyond economical repair. The Jonga certainly left its mark behind as a rugged and reliable SUV.