Army initiates plan to transform jawans into hi-tech soldiers
NEW DELHI: The Army's futuristic programmeto transform its infantry soldiers into high-tech , self-contained killing machines is finally gathering some steam, after a long delay, under the F-INSAS (future infantry soldier as a system) project.
Having issued global tenders for new assault rifles , " close-quarter battle" (CQB) carbines and lightweight ballistic helmets with internal communication gear, the defence ministry is preparing similar RFPs (request for proposals) for light-machine guns, modular bullet-proof jackets, holographic reflex weapon sights, soldier-wearable computers, communication and surveillance equipment . Just the first phase of F-INSAS itself will cost upwards of Rs 25,000 crore, with the 1.13 million strong Indian Armyhaving 359 infantry battalions, each with 800-1 ,000 soldiers. The entire programme, which will be implemented in phases, is spread over the 12, 13and 14fiveyear plans (2012 to 2027), say sources.
Somewhat similar to US Army's "land warrior" and "objective force warrior" programmes , F-INSAS is aimed at converting foot-soldiers into fully-networked , all-terrain weapon platforms by enhancing their "lethality, survivability , mobility, sustainability and situational awareness" . F-INSAS is divided into five sub-systems - modular weapons; body armour and individual equipment; weapon sights and hand-held target acquisition devices; communication equipment to make soldiers capable of transmitting and receiving complex voice, data and video systems; and portable computers in the shape of "wrist displays'' for soldiers and "planning boards'' for commanders.
The weapon systems, include CQB carbines, assault rifles and light machine guns equipped with third-generation night-vision devices, laser designators , detachable under-barrel grenade launchers and the like. The army is now examining the bids to acquire around 44,000 CQB carbines off-the-shelf for over Rs 4,500 crore. This will be followed by the indigenousmanufacture of a large number of similar modular carbines by the Ordnance Factory Board(OFB) under transfer of technology.
Then, the global tender for direct acquisition of 66,000 advanced assault rifles was floated last month, which will also be followed by licensed manufacture to equip the armed forces as well as the central paramilitary forces. This mega project for new assault rifles, with interchangeable 5.56mm and 7.62mm barrels and holographic reflex sights to replace the 5.56mm INSAS rifles currently being used, could alone run over Rs 20,000 crore.
"Soldiers will use the 7.62 x 39mm barrels for counter-insurgency operations . But if deployed for conventional warfare, then they will use the 5.56 x 45mm barrels,'' said a source. The Army, incidentally , is also shopping for tripod-mounted 12.7mm heavy machine guns, which can fire armour-piercing rounds at a rapid clip.
Army initiates plan to transform jawans into hi-tech soldiers - The Times of India