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Future Ready Combat Vehicle (FRCV)

The Indian Army is seeking development of futuristic combat vehicle for induction by 2025-27. This fighting vehicle needs to be developed on a modular concept as part of a family of combat vehicles. The Tracked Main Battle Tank will be the primary/base variant and the entire project will be called the Future Ready Combat Vehicle (FRCV).

Soviet and Russian military hardware makes up around 40 percent of all hardware in the Indian ground forces (it is even more in India's Air Force 80 percent, and Navy 75 percent). In total, there are around 600 T-55 tanks, almost 2,000 T-72M1 and 640 T-90C tanks.

The new tank will replace the armys obsolescent T-72 tanks. The FRCV would be developed instead of the the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) proposal to design the next-generation Future Main Battle Tank (FMBT). FRCV is a direct blow to Make in India, replacing not just the indigenous FMBT project but potentially also the Future Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) project that is being tendered shortly to Indian vendors.

The FMBT project which the government told Parliament on December 6, 2010, would be completed by 2020 could be worth Rs 1,50,000 crore. This includes about Rs 25,000 crore for design, development and testing, and replacing the armys 2,500-odd T-72 variants for about Rs 50 crore a tank. Replacing the armys 2,600 BMP-II infantry combat vehicles would cost another Rs 50,000 crore. Currently the indigenous FICV project covers this replacement.

India is considering to buy Russias new-generation Armata combat platform or some of its elements for future use in a new tank of its own. India plans to develop its own tank the Future Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) and I believe that our budget allowing, we could buy the Armata, or at least some of its component parts, for study and future use in our new tank, Samir Patil, a defense expert with Indias Gateway House analytical center, said in an interview with Sputnik 05 June 2015.

Patil was commenting on a statement by Russian presidential adviser on military-technical cooperation Vladimir Kozhin that Russias foreign partners, including China and India, had expressed interest in purchasing new military equipment presented at the May 9 Victory Day parade in Moscow. I think India would like to purchase such a combat platform for its armed forces, Samir Patil said. He did not rule out the possible development with Russia of Indias much-needed tank of the future.

Russia is the only country India is developing new weapons with. These are the PAK FA fifth-generation fighter jet and a multirole transport plane I think another reason why we would like to jointly develop Indias new tank is that this answers the Make in India initiative put forward by PrimeMinister Narendra Modi. Its main objective is to attract foreign capital and technological investment in India for joint R&D and production, Patil emphasized.

A Future Combat Platform design must cater for future battlefield environment and technological possibilities. To address the future battlefield scenario and the envisaged force profile in the coming years, the FRCV needs to be developed on a modular concept with a high degree of flexibility in a manner that, as a tank platform, it can address the varying requirements of different terrain configurations. At the same time it can provide the base on which a Family of Vehicles, catering to the operational needs of various arms of the Army, can be developed.

The following variants are planned to be developed on the FRCV platform:-

  1. Tracked Main Battle Tank - Primary variant.
  2. Tracked Light Tank.
  3. Wheeled Version.
  4. Bridge Layer Tank (BLT).
  5. Trawl Tank and Mine Ploughs.
  6. Armored Recovery Vehicle (ARV).
  7. Self Propelled Artillery Gun/Howitzer.
  8. Air Defence Gun/Msl System.
  9. Artillery Observation Post Vehicle.
  10. Engineer Reconnaissance Vehicle.
  11. Armored Ambulance.

Rahul Bedi noted that "The Armys request is for an FRCV that will not only serve as a medium-sized main battle tank to replace the Armys ageing fleet of licence-built Russian T-72s but also as a light-tracked and wheeled tank, built on the same platform.... Surely, the Directorate General of Mechanised Forces at Army Headquarters, responsible for issuing the request, realises the irony and irrationality of drawing up such absurd general staff qualitative requirements (GSQRs), which are technologically impossible for any manufacturer to fulfil."

The FRCV will be a fighting vehicle platform that will be required to conduct sustained continuous operations by day and night in all weather conditions in terrain and temperature ranges obtaining on Indias Western borders.

The design should be modular and compact to enable strategic, operational and battlefield mobility, as also facilitate up-gradation, easy replacement/ repair of assemblies and production of variants. The FRCV platform should enable creation of variants for employment in various operational roles in all terrain by varying its configuration and/ or weight/ armor envelopes.

The FRCV should be in the `Medium Tank category whose physical dimensions should facilitate transportability over existing terrain, in-service military bridges and major civilian infrastructure (including bridges) in the border areas (on either side of the Western border).

The number of crew members should be such that they can perform their designated tasks, and operate all on-board systems without hindrance and without any overlapping of duties/ responsibilities.

Fire Power should be well matched to contemporary MBTs in engagement ranges, all-weather day/night fighting capability, depth of penetration and variety of ammunition. Should have very high accuracy [High FRHP (First Round Hit Probability)] and very high lethality [High SSKP (Single Shot Kill Probability)], at par with contemporary MBTs.

Should provide very high all-round protection, including ballistic, active and any other form of anti-armor technologies, to ensure survivability in the contemporary and future battlefield. Should incorporate signature reduction technologies. High response evasion/ anti-detection system.

Should have adequately high power-to-weight ratio to enable all on-board systems to be run simultaneously, without disrupting the agility and mobility of the vehicle. Should have high operating range, comparable to contemporary MBTs.


On 10 June 2015 the Directorate General of Mechanised Forces (DGMF), General Staff Branch, Integrated HQ of Ministry of Defence (Army), issued a Request For Information from vendors for designs for a Future Ready Combat Vehicle for the Indian Army. The requested information was to be forwarded 31 July 2015.

In the FRCV development process, the development of FRCV will be in three separate stages, namely Design stage, Prototype Development stage and Production stage. The Design Agency and Developing Agency (DA) can be separate entities. The best design will be chosen and given to nominated DA(s) for production of the prototype(s). The selected prototype will be given to Production Agency(s) (PAs) for bulk production.

In the Design Stage, there will be a FRCV Design Competition for selecting the best design. Established tank designers will be invited by means of a global RFP (Request For Proposal), wherein the broad design philosophy for the FRCV will be given out, along with the detailed guidelines for conduct of the Competition. The participants will be asked to submit detailed designs based on the FRCV design philosophy. The evaluation and selection of the best design will be carried out by a Design Selection Committee, under the aegis of DGMF, which will have members selected from amongst domain experts and representatives of concerned defence agencies. The selection will be based on detailed and comprehensive Evaluation Criteria.

In the Prototype Development Stage, the selected design will be given to nominated DAs. These DAs will then develop the design and produce their respective prototypes. There will be close involvement of the User (Service HQ) and the Design Agency with the DA(s) during the development of the prototype(s).

In the Production Stage, after the prototypes are successfully trial evaluated, the approved design will be given to one/ two nominated Production Agencies (PAs) for bulk production. There has been no case in procurement history where one agency has designed a product, another has developed the prototype, and a third has carried out mass manufacture.

While the detailed guidelines and the operational requirements/design philosophy of the FRCV will be articulated later, the broad framework of the proposed Design Competition is as follows. The Design Competition will be open to tank design bureaus/ agencies from within and outside the country, and will be conducted in two stages.

In the first stage, based on the operational requirements and design philosophy given out, participants will submit broad concept designs, giving out the outline configuration and layout of the platform. These will be evaluated and shortlisted by the Design Selection Committee, under the aegis of DGMF.

In the second stage, shortlisted participants will be asked to submit detailed designs of the FRCV platform on a common software platform. The detailed designs will be evaluated by the Design Selection Committee. The best design(s) will be shortlisted in order of innovative design and suitability for Indian Army. The winning design(s) will carry suitable cash prize(s).

The winning design(s) will become the sole property of the Indian Army.

The agency/bureau whose designs are selected will require to continue to work on the project through the prototype and the Limited Series Production (LSP) stages. For this, a separate contract will be drawn. The agency/bureaus participating in this competition will mandatorily have to give an undertaking to this effect while applying for the competition.

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