The Indian Army wants futuristic armoured vehicles like main-battle tanks, with requisite firepower and mobility, which can operate both on the plains of the western front with Pakistan as well as the mountainous terrain of the northern border with China.
Battlefields of the future will be “complex” and warfare “hybrid” in nature, and the Army needs to systematically modernize its combat capabilities to tackle all such scenarios, said General Bipin Rawat, speaking at a seminar on ‘Future Armoured Vehicles India 2017’ here on Wednesday.
While fighting battles in the conventional domains, the sub-conventional domain also “cannot be overlooked”, as also the use of space and cyberspace. “There will be information warfare,” Gen Rawat said.
The Army chief’s statement comes in the backdrop of his force last week issuing the preliminary tender or request for information (RFI) to global armament giants for production of an initial 1,770 future ready combat vehicles (FRCVs), geared for “rapid dominance in an expanded battle-space”, in collaboration with an Indian firm under the “strategic partnership” model of the “Make in India” policy.
The Army’s keenness on inducting these FRCVs, which will form the “base platform” for main-battle tanks (MBTs) as well as “a family of variants” from 2025-2027 onwards, is seen by the DRDO as a move to scuttle its futuristic MBT project, as was earlier reported by TOI.
Having inducted only 124 indigenous Arjun Mark-1 tanks over the last decade, the Army has made it clear that it will order another 118 Arjun Mark-II tanks, at a cost of over Rs 6,600 crore, only after they clear field trials.
Gen Rawat, on his part, said the future armoured vehicles must have the operational capacity and capability to operate on the western as well the northern border. “With the canal systems evolving, we have to address the requirement of bridges and the manner in which these armoured fighting vehicles will negotiate them. That is why I say the battlefield will turn complex… the terrain will add to the complexities,” he said.
“Therefore, whatever weapons we are going to introduce must be capable of interoperability on both the fronts,” added Gen Rawat, noting that the Army was looking at modernizing its mechanized forces within specific timelines that must be adhered to.
“This time we can make no mistake. We have to decide on what we want, what the capabilities are and what exactly we have to achieve. We must have the capability to operate by day and night,” he added.