Military


Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV)

The backbone of the Indian Army’s infantry combat vehicles is the Russian-designed BMP (‘Sarath’ BMP-II) series which are being made by Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) since its induction in 1980. Approximately, 1900 ICVs BMP-2/2K are in service with the Indian Army and are likely to remain operational till 2017. The Indian Army was worried about its operational capability, particularly in terms of rapid deployment post the 2017 scenario. Thus, the FICV project was a strategic and critical programme which would define Indian Army’s mobility, deployability and lethality in the future to come and its ability to execute its proactive strategy.

The FICV project was approved in 2008, but had seen little progress since then. By mid-2013 the Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicle Request for Proposal (RFP) had been withdrawn and refomulated. Armored vehicle manufacturers were out in force at DefExpo 2016, lured by the massive Future Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) program for the Indian Army. Under FICV some 2,610 vehicles would replace in-service BMP-2/2K Sarath IFVs beginning in 2022.

Expressions of interest in the resurrected Rs. 65,000 Crore ‘Make in India’ project were lodged by six contenders in mid-February: TATA Motors, Larsen & Toubro (L&T), Mahindra Defence, TATA Power SED (with Titagarh Wagons), Reliance Defence and the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB; joint venture with Russian MBT Manufacturer - Uralvagonzavod). The government would provide 80% of development costs for two vendors for the 20 tonne tracked and amphibious IFV. Two development agencies will be shortlisted, and the shortlisted vendors will build one prototype each within 24-36 months.

The FICV project initially envisaged 70:30 allocations to the winner and the runners up of the contract with an 80:20 funding distribution by the Government and industry respectively. The Army identified a need of nearly 2600 ICVs over 20 years with the following specifications:

  • a) Weight of around 20 tonnes so that it can be transported by air and other means
  • b) Strike power of a 45 tonne Main Battle Tank (MBT) including a rapid fire cannon, a 7.62 mm machine gun, grenade launcher and an anti-tank missile
  • c) To be operated by a three man crew consisting of the commander, gunner and driver with an additional capacity to carry seven fully equipped infantrymen
  • d) Fully amphibious and all terrain capability for high mobility to keep pace with armour
  • e) Buy and Make (Indian) category, open only to domestic firms

The Ministry of Defence (MoD), which had called for the request of proposal (RFP) for the Rs 1,00,000-crore futuristic infantry combat vehicle (FICV) project in eary 2011, planned to shortlist two of the contending firms by July 2011. About 10 private firms, including the Tata's, Larsen and Toubro (L&T) and the Mahindra & Mahindra-BAE Systems joint venture Defence Land Systems India (DLSI) were among the firms waiting to be shortlisted for a project that would see the Army procure at least 2,500 such vehicles. The project would set a new precedence in the Indian defence procurement system. It not only encouraged pure private participation for what defence sources term a "sensitive" project but it also did away with the system of granting the deal on the basis of the lowest bid, a strong feature in Indian projects.

The MoD completed the field and facility visits of companies it had shortlisted in February 2011. Sources claimed it had asked for assurance of overseas transfer of technology (ToT). Also, the Centre was particular that the execution of the project lie in the hands of a domestic firm, although the need for foreign collaboration is almost a 'mandate'. The Centre was keen on firms with foreign collaborations/tie-ups and that they would have an edge over the others as the project would require high precision. US defence major General Dynamics was said to be in the fray looking for possible tie-ups with Indian firms to bag the deal. The US firms competing for the other major defence contracts in India - the $10 billion medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) for the Indian Air Force lost to their European competition.

Mahindra Defence Systems in partnership with BAE Systems, Larsen Toubro & company also works on foreign partnerships. Company Tata Motors is also trying to find a foreign partner after deal with Rheinmetall has reached a deadlock due to the Indian blacklist its Swiss subsidiary. State-owned Ordnance Factory Board is also participating in the project.

The nearly $10 billion Indian Army’s Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) project was slated to be the largest indigenous defense program. The FICV project was classified under the "Buy & Make" category mentioned in Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP-2011). The vendors for the Indian Army’s FICV project were shortlisted on the basis of technical, functional and commercial aspects, and only local Indian firms could bid. However, local firms could opt for technology tie-ups with foreign companies. It would help develop a whole eco-system of small and medium sized companies as suppliers to the winners of the contract. The FICV development would provide a big boost to India’s pursuance of self-reliance and indigenisation in the form of a robust domestic defence industrial base.

At the 6th International Land and Naval Systems Exhibition, also called DEFEXPO India 2012, held at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi from March 29 to April 1, Tata Motors displayed the scaled models of its concept futuristic infantry combat vehicle (FICV), including the turret. In addition, the proposed layout of the production facility was also displayed. Tata Motors is one of the four Indian companies which has been issued the Expression of Interest (EoI) by the Indian Army for the FICV, a ‘Make Indian’ project. The company has accordingly responded to the EoI based on indigenous design and development in association with key technology partners, and submitted its response in October 2010.

Two short-listed companies were to make an FICV prototype, and after field trials of the prototype, the winning company would produce up to 2,600 FICVs. After nearly two years of discussions, no final decision was made about which companies would participate. The Defense Ministry had selected state-owned Bharat Earth Movers and a consortium of Larsen & Toubro, Mahindra Defense and Tata Power, but former Indian Army chief general, V.K. Singh, questioned the ability of the Indian companies to take on such a big project.

In December 2012 Russia offered to transfer BMP-3 combat vehicle technology to India if India cancelled its project, as India's its homemade Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) can be commissioned no earlier than in ten years’ time. Russia offers India to buy BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles instead of further implementation of its stalled project for the development of such a vehicle. The Indian Defence Ministry wanted to produce the BMP-3 under the license since this has a great sense because India would be able to start producing a similar vehicle no earlier than ten years. Russia offers India to buy BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles instead of further implementation of its stalled project for the development of such a vehicle. The Indian Defence Ministry wanted to produce the BMP-3 under the license since this has a great sense because India will be able to start producing a similar vehicle no earlier than ten years.

By June 2013 it appeared that the $10 billion Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) had been shelved, with the Indian Ministry of Defense instead accelerating the upgrade of its Russian-made BMP-2 infantry combat vehicles, and issuing tenders to buy 2,000 engines for the program. The Indian Army’s more than 1,500 BMP-2s would be upgraded at a cost of more than $1.2 billion over three to five years, under a program that received formal MoD clearance in May 2013. Though this move did not necessarily shut down the homegrown FICV project, it was less likely to come to fruition. The upgrade would improve observation and surveillance, night-fighting capability and fire control, and would provide an improved anti-tank guided missile system and 30mm automatic grenade launcher.

The tender for the purchase of 2,000 engines to power the upgraded BMP-2 was sent to domestic auto majors Mahindra & Mahindra, Tata Motors, Force Motors, Ashok Leyland, Maruti Udyog and Crompton Greaves, and to MTU of Germany, Thales of France and Rosoboronexport of Russia. The Army required engines able to generate 350 to 380 horsepower and are easy to maintain and operate in extreme weather conditions. The existing engine of the BMP-2 had 285 horsepower and is not suited for cross-country mobility. This tender purchase 2,000 engines for the upgrade was cancelled because none of the domestic vendors fulfilled the engine’s requirements. Now a global tender is likely to be issued for the engines.

India will not shelve its homegrown $10 billion Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) program in favor of advanced Russian BMP-3 combat vehicles. The decision was conveyed to the Russian side at the 18 November 2013 meeting of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation held in Moscow.

India’s Mahindra Defence Systems tied up with BAE Systems, Larsen & Toubro was working on overseas tie ups, and Tata Motors was also working to connect with overseas companies after its tie up with Rheinmetall stalled following the blacklisting of the German company. State-owned Ordnance Factories Board was also in the race. The MoD will shortlist two competitors to develop their prototypes, which will be put to trial.

India cleared a bulk of defense projects worth $13 billion in a bid to boost the country's national defense preparedness, the Indian Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) said 25 October 2014. The DAC decided to buy 362 infantry fighting vehicles at a cost of 662 crore rupees.

A consortium of three defense companies, "Tata Motors", "Bharat Forge" and "General Dynamics Land Systems" will develop and manufacture an infantry fighting vehicle of the future. The customer is the defense department of India. The cost of the project is estimated at $ 10 billion. This was reported in March 2016. Development and production will take place on the territory of the Indian state. At the same time, the share of foreign developments will not exceed 30%. It is assumed that the final product will be compact, light and transportable through the air. The car will be able to overcome water obstacles and carry up to 8 people in the landing. As weapons it is planned to use long-range anti-tank missiles. The new BMP will be designed to replace more than 2,000 infantry combat vehicles of Soviet and Russian production that are in service with this country.




NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list