Army looks to replace its Soviet-era infantry vehicles, eyes ops along China frontier

The Army has issued a “Request for Information” for futuristic infantry combat vehicles to replace its Soviet-made BMP infantry vehicles from the 1980s.

This comes after its RFI for nearly 1,800 future-ready combat vehicles or main battle tanks earlier this month.

The new RFI, issued Thursday, seeks 1,750 tracked infantry vehicles to serve as the main vehicle for the mechanised forces for the next three decades. India has 49 Mechanised Infantry battalions.

The new infantry combat vehicles will be employed in operations along India’s Northern Border, facing China, in Ladakh, Central and Sikkim sectors, according to sources in the Army.

A similar project for more than 2,000 infantry combat vehicles had been unsuccessful even as the Acceptance of Necessity was given by the Defence Ministry in 2009.

The new project will be under the ‘Make in India’ programme, and the interested firms have to inform of their willingness to participate within a week. Of the 1,750 that the Army seeks to procure, 55 per cent will be the gun versions, and others will be specialist vehicles — command and command and surveillance versions.

The selected Indian company, partnering with a foreign original equipment manufacturer, will have to supply 75 to 100 vehicles per year, starting within two years of the contract being signed.

As per the RFI, the FICVs “will be employed for cross country (off road) operations, including amphibious operations in under mentioned terrain conditions” which include “plain and desert terrain as occurring along Western Borders of India”, high-altitude up to 5,000 meters or mountain terrain “as occurring along Northern Borders” with China. It should be capable of being operational by day and night and “in commonly encountered weather conditions including dust in the above terrains”.

Among the technical parameters that the Army is looking for in the FICV are for it to be “amphibious at Gross Weight” with combat load of 2.5 tons, 400 km on-road operating range, stowage of six 3rd generation top-attack anti-tank guided missile, “tube/ canister launched loiter munition system with a capability to observe, identify and destroy non line-of-sight targets” and a mini-UAV system in its command and surveillance version.

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