FRCV to The Fore

In conformity with the emerging future threat spectrum and the technological advancements, the Indian Army intends to induct a new state-of-the-art and technology-enabled tank

June 22, 2021 By Lt. General P.C. Katoch (Retd) Photo(s): By Nexter systems, KMW, 2ABCT1AD / Twitter, Wikipedia, Israel Defence Force, bmc.com.tr
The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army

 

Nexter's Leclerc MBT from France

It was brought out in these columns earlier that even though multiple private industry players had responded to the Expression of Interest (EoI) for the FICV issued in 2009, it kept getting stonewalled. The project was to be on private-public partnership basis under Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2008 'Make' procedure for developing high-tech, complex systems through Indian industry and based on commercial bids of 2009, was to be put on fast track looking at production of 3,000 FICVs to replace the upgraded BMPs at a cost of $10 billion.

KMW's LEOPARD-2A7 from Germany

On March 20, 2021, media reported that the Ordnance Factory (OF) at Medak is developing a new mine-proof Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicles (FICV) that would be fielded by the Indian Army facing the Chinese aggression in Ladakh. The report further said that the FICV will be equipped with Instant Fire Detection and Suppression system (IFDSS); a prototype is being developed of a wheeled FICV to move on plain surface, and; the new FICV will be equipped with night vision capability, which gives the tank driver, commander, and gunman a 360-degree view even at night. However, the report gave no details of development stage of the new FICV, time schedule of when it would be ready for trials, its weight and what has made the FICV mine proof.

The FRCV platform is planned to be procured under the 'Strategic Partnership' model within the provision of DAP 2020

General Dynamics' M1A2 ABRAM from USA

Close on the recent news of the FICV, the Indian Army has issued a fresh RFI for Future Ready Combat Vehicle (FRCV) for the Indian Army, superseding the RFI issued for the FRCV on November 8, 2017 on grounds of outdated technology. The FRCV platform is planned to be procured under the 'Strategic Partnership' model within the provision of Chapter-VII of Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020. The Army intends to induct the FRCV by 2030. The RFI says that in conformity with the emerging future threat spectrum and the technological advancements, the Indian Army intends to induct a new state-of-the-art and technology-enabled tank to operate in varied terrain profile (high altitude areas, plains/riverine, deserts/semi-deserts) across the current and future spectrum of conflict.

The Army intends to induct the FRCV by 2030

Uralvagonzavod's MBT T-14 Armata marketed by Rosoboronexport from Russia

The Army is looking for a modern battle tank platform that is not only superior but also incorporates niche technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), see-through armour and the ability to operate in a network-centric environment. The new tanks are also required to be capable of continuous operations by day and night in real-time awareness, all-terrain agility and high mobility, precision lethal firepower, multi-layered protection with the use of niche technologies. The Army has insisted the tank should be lightweight in order to achieve higher operational advantage, with soft kill systems and other countermeasures meaning laser warning system and RF sensors.

Mantak/ Israel Ordnance Corps' Merkava Mark 4 Tank from Israel

The fresh RFI for over 1,700 FRCVs has been received by 12 Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM). The OEMs include: France - Leclerc Nexter; Russia - T-90 & T-14 Armata Uralvagonzavod marketed by Rosoboronexport (ROE); South Korea - K1 Hyundai Rotem; USA - M1AX (Abrams) General Dynamics; Germany - Leopard KMW and Rheinmetall; Ukraine - T84 Malyshev Plant marketed by Spectstechno Expo; Italy - Ariete Consortium Iveco and Oto Melara (Leonardo); Serbia - M 84 Yugoimport; Israel - Merkava Mantak/ Israel Ordnance Corps; United Kingdom - Challenger; and Turkey - Altay Otokar. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is also a recipient.

The Army is looking for a modern battle tank platform that is not only superior but also incorporates niche technologies like artificial intelligence

Otokar's Altay from Turkey

The last date of acceptance of receipt of response from the OEMs has been set for September 15, 2021. The Army needs the next generation battle tank to have high detection, recognition and identification ranges with thermal night fighting and lock on target capability with smoke dischargers with anti-thermal and laser capability. The Army wants the battle tank to have a loading system to provide auto-loading with minimum intervention and engagement time. The OEMs have also been asked through the RFI whether they have the ability to provide a family of combat vehicles for like recovery vehicle, bridge layer tank on standardised platform. Hopefully, the Army will be able to induct the FRCV by 2030 as per current plans.