Indian Army plans to buy 1,750 futuristic infantry combat vehicles

Dark Sorrow

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Indian Army on Thursday issued the Request for Information (RFI) to finalise the specifications for acquiring 1,750 Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicles (FICVs) under the Make in India initiative to destroy enemy tanks and carry troops.
The Indian Army says it wants to deploy the vehicles in places like Eastern Ladakh along with desert and amphibious terrain.

The FICV project has been in plans for a long time and the need for a modern troops carrier equipped with tank-busting capabilities was felt during the recent Ladakh conflict.
Due to the experiences in the Ladakh theatre, the Indian Army is also looking at the prospect of acquiring 350 light tanks in a phased manner, along with performance-based logistics, niche technologies, engineering support package, and other maintenance and training requirements.
The Light Tank is planned to be procured under the 'Make-in-India' ethos and spirit of the Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) - 2020, the Indian Army has stated.
The Indian Army specified that it wants its less than 25 tonnes tanks to be used for operations in High Altitude Area (HAA), marginal terrain (Rann), amphibious operations, etc.
"The advancement in technology also facilitates that the 'Light Tank' is having weapon systems and protection of adequate capacity and is equipped suitably to operate in current/future threat spectrum, to support combat operations as a weapon system," the RFI issued on April 23 said.

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New RFI issued for the long delayed FICV for the Indian Army

Within two years after the contract has been inked, the Indian vendors can collaborate with Foreign OEMS to deliver 75-100 vehicles per year. There will be a three stage induction model, as proposed by the Indian Army.


For the third time the Indian Army has issued a fresh Request for Information (RFI) for Future Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV). These vehicles are going to be the mainstay of the mechanized forces for a long time. The Indian Army is keen to get 1750 FICV, a project which is expected to cost around Rs 60,000 crore.

According to the RFI that has been issued today, out of the total quantities, around 55 percent is going to be the Gun Version and balance would be Specialist Vehicles.

Within two years after the contract has been inked, the Indian vendors can collaborate with Foreign OEMS to deliver 75-100 vehicles per year. There will be a three stage induction model, as proposed by the Indian Army.

What is the Three Stage Induction Model proposed by the Army?

The Stage-I is for Limited Series Production (LSP). In this around 10 per cent of the total number of vehicles will be delivered over a period of two years. This means 75-100 per year.

The Stage-II is going to be Product Improvement. And around 40 per cent of the total number of vehicles are expected to be delivered spread over a period of six to seven years.

And in the final Stage-III, with technical upgrades and product improvement the balance number of vehicles will be delivered.

The response to the RFI issued today is expected in a couple of months’ time and once that comes then only the Ministry of Defence will grant Acceptance of Necessity, before the Request for Proposal is issued (RfP).

The Prolonged Saga of FICV

It all started in the late 2000s, when the Mechanised Infantry Directorate had initiated the formal process and the expected cost for replacing the old BMPs was around Rs 26,000 crore. And the plan was to have these vehicles by 2022.

The journey since then has been rough. In 2012, the proposal was withdrawn because the plan was to upgrade the existing vehicles.

And, in 2014, a new plan was rolled out by the government under which the Ordnance Factory Board and two private companies were to develop prototypes of the FICV.

In 2018 FICV project was shifted to Make II project to involve the private sector companies in this project under the Make in India initiative.

As reported by Financial Express Online, in 2019 Indian companies including the L&T, Mahindra and Mahindra, and others sent in their proposals to the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Even after putting it under the Make II, no decision could be taken and the file was sent back to the Indian Army Headquarters to understand from the end user how they wanted the project to move forward.

The decision to move it under Make II was taken in 2018, to help in expediting the process as well as promoting the Make in India initiative in the defence sector.

Why did this happen?

It happened due to the difference of opinion between the end user the Army and the MoD which wanted the Army to pay for the project. This led to putting the FICV on the back burner.

As reported earlier this project was initially approved under the Strategic Partnership (SP) model for the armoured vehicle segment. It was under the `Make’ category of DPP-2008, before it moved to the Make II of DPP-2016.

In 2018, the then defence secretary at the annual press conference confirmed that the FICV project has been shifted to the `Make II’ category. Responding to media queries, he had said that a shift to the `Make II’ has been made to fast track the project.“

Difference between Make & Make II

According to the DPP-2008, in Make II no funds are required from the ministry, whereas under Make category 90 per cent of the funds up to the prototype stage has to come from the ministry.

Indian Army actually needs a hi-tech complex FICV, which is expected to have a life span of more than three decades. These are needed to replace the current BMP-2 Russian origin infantry combat vehicles by 2025. However, the formal induction of these vehicles may not be before much later in this decade.

Which OEMS are interested in the project?

Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) like the Russian companies under the umbrella of Rosoboronexport, and German Rheinmetall, and South Korean Company Hanwha, and Leonardo of Italy.

Which are the Indian companies?

The Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), BEML, Mahindra Group, Ashok Leyland, Larsen and Toubro, Reliance, Bharat Forge and others.

What was required under the `Make’ category?

In 2016, under the `Make’ category, three development agencies (DAs) were planned which included two from the private sector and one from the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB). And the MoD was supposed to as per the procedure give a minimum Rs 500 crore each to the three DAs.

The Indian Army was asked by the MoD to seek a detailed project report (DPR) from all the contenders who had received the expression of interest (EoI) in 2016. By then the project which was already delayed by a decade got stuck further. The Integrated Project Management Team (IPMT)’ which was to seek reports from all the companies which had responded to the revised EoI took more than a year.

What is the Army looking for in the fresh round?

It should have the capability to carry loitering munitions, mini drones which can be used along the eastern, central and northern borders. To be equipped with a 30mm main gun and anti-tank missiles besides other firepower and a capacity to carry three or more crew and soldiers.


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Indian Army wants new combat vehicles to carry attack, surveillance drones

The Indian Army on Wednesday published a detailed request for information (RFI) from suppliers soliciting proposals to supply futuristic infantry combat vehicles (FICV).
Infantry combat vehicles, or infantry fighting vehicles as they are called in the west, are armoured vehicles that are the main means of transport of 'mechanised infantry'. These vehicles can carry anywhere from five to 10 soldiers into battle, while also being capable of engaging targets on the ground using guns and anti-tank missiles.
The RFI issued by the Indian Army specifies that it intends to procure up to 1,750 FICVs in three versions. The three versions are a 'gun version', a command version and a command and surveillance version. The 'gun version', which is primarily meant for combat operations, will constitute the bulk of the intended order quantity (55 per cent). Command versions of infantry combat vehicles are used by battlefield commanders to direct operations and correspond with superiors.
While the RFI specifies the gun version of the FICV should be capable of housing a crew of three and carrying at least eight soldiers, the remaining two variants should have a crew of three and should carry four soldiers.
The Indian Army specifies the FICVs will be procured in the spirit of ‘Make in India’ and ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ programmes.
The Indian Army RFI specifies that the FICV should be equipped with at least a 30mm main gun and anti-tank missiles. These weapons have been standard features on infantry combat vehicles in both the erstwhile Soviet bloc and the west since the 1980s. However, apparently accepting the changing trends in warfare, the Indian Army has specified that the command and command and surveillance versions of the FICV be capable of carrying drones for surveillance and also suicide strike missions (known as 'loitering munitions').
Loitering munitions
The Indian Army has specified that both FICV versions be capable of carrying loitering munitions that can attack moving targets, including ones that are armoured. The RFI specifies the loitering munitions be capable of providing real-time information back to the commander and gunner of the FICV.
Loitering munitions have attracted attention in recent years as a means of both surveillance and attack. Loitering munitions are significantly smaller than standard surveillance drones and can detect targets concealed by terrain. Azerbaijan made extensive use of loitering munitions of Israeli origin to strike Armenian forces in the war between both nations last year. Last year, it was reported that the Indian Army was mulling purchase of an Israeli loitering munition called FireFly that could fit into a backpack.
Mini-UAV
In addition to loitering munitions, the Indian Army RFI specifies the command and surveillance version of the FICV carry one 'mini' UAV that is capable of vertical take-off and landing, like a helicopter. The RFI specifies the mini-UAV be capable of an endurance of at least 60 minutes and a range of 10km. The Indian Army has specified the UAV provide real-time colour, high-definition imagery and video back to the FICV to "enable engagement by other weapon systems like Mortars, Loiter Munition, Artillery, Attack Helicopters etc".
Deployment plan
The Indian Army intends to use the FICV to replace the 1980s-vintage BMP-2, which is a Soviet-designed infantry combat vehicle.
The Indian Army intends to deploy the FICV on the "plain and desert terrain as occurring along Western Borders of India and High Altitude (up to 5000 meters altitude)/Mountain terrain as occurring along Northern Borders (Eastern Ladakh/ Central Sector / North Sikkim) of India".
Long delay
Proposals to develop a replacement for the BMP-2 have been hanging fire for two decades. In the late 1990s, the DRDO began work on the 'Abhay', a technology demonstrator vehicle that would provide the basis to begin replacing the BMP-2. Multiple proposals have been put forth to develop the FICV as a public-private partnership, with initial figures saying up to 3,000 vehicles would be bought at a price of $10 billion. However, these proposals have not come to fruition.

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