Indian Army will soon get new generation, state-of-the-art tanks called the Future Ready Combat Vehicle (FRCV), numbering over 1700, to replace the ageing Soviet-era T-72 tanks.
The Defence Ministry has issued a global request for information (RFI) on Wednesday for development and manufacturing of FRCV under the Strategic Partnership model in collaboration with an Indian partner. Under the joint development plan, the design will be provided by the Foreign Original Equipment Manufactured to the selected Indian strategic partner.
FRCV, which is planned to be used in border areas close to Pakistan and China, will not only form the basic platform of the main battle tank, but also for a family of variants such as lighter tanks, taking the total number of vehicles to be manufactured under this project to over 2,000.
In addition, such a push indicates India’s moving away from indigenous tank projects like Arjun Tanks and reduction in dependence on Russian-origin military vehicles.
Due to different “operational scenarios” and for maintaining combat edge over an adversary, the Army needs to induct latest medium-weight class tanks to replace the vintage T-72 tank fleet. The army is seeking induction of the FRCVs by 2025-27. Accordingly, the RFI was issued to procure 1,770 FRCVs
in a phased manner.
The FRCV is planned to be used for “rapid dominance” in the battlefield with real time awareness, agility, lethal firepower and multi-layered protection. The army wants it to be able to conduct operations during day and night and respond to anti-tank and anti-aircraft threats, including low flying manned and unmanned rotary aircraft. It is likely to be employed in varied terrains, including high altitude areas, deserts and mountainous terrain.
This includes operations at temperatures ranging between -30 degress celsius to +50 degrees celsius. A previous RFI issued in June, 2015, for the designs of a FRCV stated that the vehicle should be able to be used along India’s western border.
As the FRCV is being procured under the Strategic Partnership model, the foreign OEM will have to inform the government of the basic design of a proven armoured fighting vehicle, based on which the current design is being proposed. The selected OEM will also have to ensure its Transfer of Technology.
India, which wants to acquire such technologies including design know-how, is in the process of developing an industrial ecosystem for such vehicles. The OEM will also have to take into account 10 years performance based logistics and life cycle support for about 50 years.
This project is different from a similar one called the Future Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) programme, which is for supplying over 2000 vehicles to replace the army’s existing Infantry Combat Vehicles, the BMP-IIs. Furthermore, experts explained that the new FRCV project indicates moving beyond the indigenous programs, such as the DRDO’s Future Main Battle Tank and the Arjun Mark-2 program.