New Delhi: The Indian Army is set to procure over 1,700 Future Ready Combat Vehicles (FRCVs) in a phased manner under the strategic partnership route, with the induction of the “future tank” expected to be completed by 2030.
According to a Request for Information (RFI) floated by the Army Tuesday, the 1,770 FRCVs will be procured along with transfer of technology, performance-based logistics, engineering support package, and other maintenance and training requirements.
The prospective vendors will have to respond to the RFI by 15 September.
An earlier Request for Proposal floated on the procurement of FRCVs in 2017 stands cancelled.
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Defence had granted approval to the Army’s proposal to procure 118 indigenously-manufactured Arjun Mark 1-A ‘Hunter Killers’ at a cost of Rs 8,380 crore.
In April, the Army had also floated an RFI to procure around 350 light tanks in a phased manner under the Make in India initiative, to sharpen its mountain warfare edge amid the ongoing Ladakh stalemate.
Currently, India operates with Russian-designed T-90 tanks, which weigh around 46 tonnes, besides the T-72 tanks. The new procurement will eventually replace the Russian T-72 tanks.
The “state-of-the-art”, “technologically-enabled” FRCVs will be able to operate in different terrains, such as high altitude areas, plains and riverine borders as well as deserts, and have high mobility. They will act as the main battle tanks of the Army.
According to the Army’s requirements, the tanks should ideally be able to defeat the adversary’s tanks, armoured vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and destroy or deter attack helicopters. The platform is needed to have multiple anti-aircraft weapons, counter UAVs and a ground role with different calibre assisted with remote control weapon stations.
The RFI also requires the platform to also have different stealth features.
The procurement is in line with the emerging future threat spectrum, the RFI says. The superior modern tank platform, it says, should incorporate niche technologies such as artificial intelligence, and can operate in a network centric and electronic warfare environment.
While tanks have been the dominant battle winning factor of the land forces, it faces new threats from loitering munitions, UCAVs (unmanned combat aerial vehicles) and their targeting have been made easier with a progress in the adversary’s ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) capabilities, it says.
“….the future tank has to be in sync with technological battlefield advancements,” the RFI says, adding that it needs to upgrade and incorporate systems to negate ISR systems, counter new threats and enhance its operational performance.
The Army says the medium weight-class tank should have an weapon system that can be upgraded and equipped with advanced multipurpose smart munitions, both for main and secondary armaments with gun tube launched anti-tank guided missiles.
‘Will reduce necessity to train on multiple platforms’
A senior Army officer told ThePrint that the FRCVs will provide flexibility to switch to mechanised forces into different terrain at a short notice, as they can be deployed in all terrain.
“It would reduce the necessity to train on multiple platforms. Additionally, the overall inventory would be easier to manage in terms of spares and other reserves,” the officer said.
Lt Gen A.B. Shivane (Retd), former director general, mechanised forces had called it a “game changer”. In a seminar in 2017, he had said the FRCV would replace the Russian T-72 tanks presently in service and would not scuttle the Arjun tank programme.
The RFI clarifies that several new technologies have been sought and the prospective Original Equipment Manufacturer may not have them at present, but they can confirm the provision for their integration into the platform.