The DRDO is developing futuristic infantry combat vehicle (ICV) Abhay ("Fearless" in Sanskrit) as a technology demonstrator for replacement of BMP-II vehicle, which are presently in service. Abhay ICV has taken best of BMP and western equipment and will be designed for more firepower. Various systems of this vehicle are in advanced stage of development.

The Abhay ICV developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) would act as a technology demonstrator based on which Future ICVs can be designed and developed. The success of the indigenous Abhay project led to the creation of technology base and know-how for the envisaged development of FICV in Public-Private Partnership mode.

Ongoing transformation of forces has placed an increased emphasis on balanced forces capable of rapid deployment in a range of circumstances. In many countries, heavy armour is also being phased out in favour of lighter and more flexible formations. DRDO is engaged in design and development of various kinds of wheeled, tracked, and combat engineering systems to provide mobility solutions to the Indian Armoured Forces.

Infantry combat vehicles ICVs are used as means of armoured transportation designed to move infantrymen to the battlefield to follow up after tanks and capture combat areas In the era of conventional combined arms operations and peacekeeping operations ICVs have evolved into a real force multiplier. Infantry-based forces are common throughout the world Though these forces have some armour they mainly rely on dismounted or motorised infantry for the bulk of their combat power Such armies normally mount at least per cent of their forces in armoured vehicles. In terms of equipment size the range forms from small forces fielding outmoded equipment to large capable forces fielding state of the art weapons. Significant technologies that mark this class are in fire support and target acquisition

Mechanised infantry battalions of the Indian Army are equipped with ICVs BMP-2/2K, which is of 1980s vintage. The BMP-1 was first tested in combat in the 1973 Yom Kippur War where it was used by Egyptian and Syrian Forces. Based on the lessons learned from this conflict and early experiences in the Soviet War in Afghanistan, a new version, with improved fighting qualities was developed. It was accepted by the Services in August 1980. Approximately, 1900 ICVs BMP-2/2K are in service with the Indian Army and are likely to remain operational till 2017. An effort to modernise part of the BMP-2 fleet to enhance the useful life is also in progress.

Besides, Army had projected requirements of approximately 2600 Futuristic ICVs (FICV) to replace the existing fleet and also to cater for force expansion/ restructuring. Indigenous development of the 'Abhay' led to the creation of technology base and know-how for the envisaged development of FICV.

To fill the technological gap of new generation ICV companion to MBT, the program 'Abhay', a multidisciplinary and multi-lab project was launched by Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (VRDE), a constituent establishment of Defence Research and Development Organisation DRDO to develop an indigenous ICV as a technology demonstrator, incorporating a blend of state-of-the-art technologies with impressive fire power, excellent mobility, and high degree of protection. The program also enabled identification of suitable industry partners, and created pools of excellence in development of ICV sub systems The system integration capability at lab level has enhanced to a significant level, which would facilitate undertaking technology intensive program.

Vehicles Research and Development Establishment VRDE one of the premier labs of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), is engaged in design and development of various kinds of wheeled tracked and combat engineering systems to provide mobility solutions to the Armoured Forces The combat vehicles and ground support vehicles for strategic weapon systems will continue to be the major thrust areas of DRDO to maintain its overall growth. Expertise in the field of combat vehicles and engineering is definitely an added advantage to conquer upon the enemy. Developing futuristic and “Beyond the Horizon” technologies, in long-term interest are a prime factor to help growth of combat vehicles and engineering.

It will be capable of carrying a complement of 3 + 7, with a 40mm AGL, a 30mm or 40mm cannon, an ATGW launcher with 4 Nag ATGM rounds and the same kanchan armour as Arjun. Other sources suggest that the missiles on the Abhay wont be Nags. The Nag is a heavy ATGM designed for the Namica. The ATGM's for the Abhay will be FLAME compatible- ie Milan2T's /Konkurs M. The Abhay will have limited amphibious ability, like the PT76.

The Abhay seems to have a good chance because it is low tech, doesn't seem to have any competitors, might have a bit more political and military backing, and seems to have gotten of to a good start. Abhay has good chance because the MOD and government have categorically ruled out importing the BMP-3. A lot of R&D effort and lessoned learned from the Arjun MBT is being utilized in Abhay ICV. The first prototype of futuristic infantry combat vehicle (ICV)- Abhay, as a technology demonstrator, has been realised with indigenous automotive systems including state-of-the-art hydro-pneumatic suspension system. Indigenously developed composite, titanium and high hardened armour steel have been used for desired protection levels. The turret incorporates a mix of weapon systems backed up by indigenous fire control and gun control systems to destroy potential targets.

An all-electric type weapon control system with independent stabilisation has been developed indigenously by DRDO in association with private sector industry for the turret of Infantry Combat Vehicle (ICV), Abhay. The purpose of all-electric drive (AED) is to position the 40 mm main gun of Abhay on to the target in azimuth and elevation and to provide twin-axis stabilisation to the weapon platform against external disturbances.

It is an electromechanical system, which uses brush-less drives with especially designed backlash free elevation and traverse gearboxes coupled to turret ring for rotation in azimuth, and to sector gear for elevation/depression of gun, respectively. The system employs vector control technology implemented through digital controllers and insulated gate bipolar transistor (IGBT)-based power amplifiers for control of brush-less drives. It uses state-of-the-art fibre optic gyros as feedback elements for the purpose of stabilisation. AED has a provision for MIL 1553 and RS 422 interface for real-time connectivity with Fire Control System and Battlefield Management System. It has been interfaced with a combined day-cum-night sight integrated to Laser Range Finder for the purpose of aiming at targets. The system has excellent accuracy levels comparable with contemporary systems.

The system has been tested on board vehicle on cross-country and has been successfully test fired on static targets. Being an indigenous development, AED can be suitably configured to drive and stabilise similar weapons/allied platforms.

The first trials of the Indian-developed Abhay ICV started at the end of 2000. By 2001 the design work for the technology demonstrator of Abhay had been completed and the fabrication of hull and turret for the first mild steel prototype is under progress. By 2004 the Light Combat Aircraft development program, Kaveri engine development program, Electronic Warfare program for Army and Navy and Futuristic infantry Combat Vehicle (ICV- Abhay) were some important projects/programs of Defence Research and Development Organisation suffered delay due to the imposition of sanctions.

The set back was overcome through indigenous effort by pooling national talents, third country source development initiative and design adaptation. As part of the national effort thrust for research, indigenous development of components, materials and sub-systems, as national effort in on. The sanctions still remained in force partially at the end of 2004.

The father of the Army's Arjun tank, Mr. M Natarajan, appointed chief of the DRDO in August 2004, working on the Abhay, the ICV. Speaking after being formally appointed, he saaid: "The Abhay is under development. We see it as the future infantry combat vehicle for the Army. It will be a replacement for the Russian made BMPs that the Army has. It should be ready in two years." he said. The ICV provides the infantry with protection and helps it move quickly in battle, keeping in step with the tanks.

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