Production of the BMP-2, known as the Sarath (Chariot of Victory), was undertaken at 100 per year, with over 1,000 in active service. By 2012 approximately, 1900 ICVs BMP-2/2K are in service with the Indian Army and were likely to remain operational till 2017. Ordnance Factory Medak was established in the year 1984 for indigenous production of Infantry Combat Vehicles (ICVs). The ICV has been christened as “SARATH". The first SARATH was rolled out in 1987.
In their search for a suitable armored personnel carrier, the Army HQ carried out extensive trials of a number of vehicles from different countries and selected Infantry Combat Vehicles (ICV) BMP I from the Soviet Union. Later, an improved version of the vehicle -- ICV-BMP II -- was decided to be manufactured indigenously and capacity for indigenous manufacture of improved ICV-BMP II was created in three OFs. The Ministry imported in all 745 ICVs-BMP I over a period of six years during 1976 to 1982 at a total cost of Rs 171.11 crore. As the ICVs have a useful life of 10 to 15 years, the imported vehicles would outlive their useful life during 1991 to 1997.
The projects for indigenous production of ICV-BMP I, its engines and opto-electrical devices imported at a cost ofRs 16.50 crore, were sanctioned in June 1984. While the planning work was in progress, the Army decided on indigenous production of its improved version, i.e. ICV-BMP II and its technology was obtained at a cost of Rs 57.17 crore under an agreement of February 1985. However, the Ministry revised the earlier sanctions for setting up of composite facility for indigenous production of improved version i.e ICV-BMP II only in February-August 1987. According to the DPR the production was to commence in 1987-88 and the sanctioned capacity was to be achieved by 1992-93.
The target for 1989-90 could not be achieved due to non-receipt of complete knockeddown (CKD) kits in time and large number of deficiencies noticed in CKDs received from the collaborators. The production plan in 1990-91 was reduced in April 1990 to 231 and 1991-92 onwards to 150 by Army due to budgetary constraints. The production targets for 1991-92 was restricted to 120 vehicles and 100 vehicles from 1992-93 onwards. Ministry intimated (August 1992) that the reduction in requirement of vehicle was due to high cost and fund constraints. They added that the cost of indigenous equipment became high. However, Ministry also intimated that (March 1993) the indigenous cost of vehicle II is Rs.1.12 crores in 1991-92 when the import cost of Vehicle II 5 years back was 3.44 lakhs Roubles which on coversion works out to Rs.1.06 crores as in March 1992.
The order initially placed by Army in July 1986 was for 657 Vehicle II and 143 variants of Vehicle II termed as Vehicle II-K. Later on Army amended the order for Vehicle II from 657 to 750 against which all 750 Vehicles II were supplied upto 1991-92.
Life of tracked vehicles including BMPs prevalent at the time of induction of BMP-I in 1977 was 15 years, with one mid-life overhaul. The Ministry changed the overhaul policy in January 1987 while increasing the life of the vehicle to 32 years, providing for two overhauls at 12 and 22 years from the date of the induction, or 10,000 kms run, whichever was earlier. The Army changed the overhaul philosphy yet again in 1993 under which the periodicity of overhauls were to be worked out with reference to kilometerage instead of vintage, as it was considered that the need for repairs arose more through usage than vintage. The engines common to both BMP-I and II were due for overhaul after 4800 kms. The Ministry, accepting in principle this overhaul philosophy, sanctioned in March 1994 creation of facilities for overhaul of 110 BMP-I vehicles and 210 engines per annum, by augmenting the existing facilities at Army Base Workshop and spares support by Central Armoured Fighting Vehicle Depot.
The overhaul facility was expected to be fully established by mid 2000. First overhaul of 686 BMP-I vehicles was expected to be completed by 2006 and BMP-II would be taken up for overhaul only from 2007. This is critical in the context of Army's existing plan to equip all Mechanised Infantry Battalions with BMP-II vehicles by a target date by which time all imported BMP-II vehicles would have completed more than 16 years. Ministry stated in December 1999 that 56 vehicles have been overhauled and 114 of 1981 vintage have become due for overhaul.
As the Russian supplier discontinued manufacture of BMP-I, the Project Controller mooted a proposal in June 1995 to buy life time spares for the maintenance and overhaul of the vehicles.
The proposed purchase of the spares was assessed for life cycle concept of 32 years with two overhauls and three medium repairs of 742 BMP-I vehicles. The Ministry approved the proposal for life time purchase of 185 items of spares at an estimated cost of Rs 27.09 crore in July 1998 duly restricting it to half life time in respect of 133 items in view of their outdated technology and impending replacement. On a review in February 1999, 30 items pertaining to image converter based systems were deleted since these are not to be overhauled in view of passivisation of active systems after 10th plan. Army HQ placed indents for 155 items of spares, as of December 1999.
Analysis of 133 items under procurement after restricting it to half life time buy, disclosed that it included 114 items for first overhaul and maintenance till replacement of outdated gunner/driver night vision devices. Since the mechanised Infantry Battalions would be constituted with BMP-II by early 10th plan, import of the spares for overhaul of these items was not justified at the fag end of their use by mechanised infantry. Cost of spares for these 114 items was estimated at Rs 15.62 crore and included in the sanctioned amount of Rs 27.09 crore. Further, provisioning of another 36 items of spares was for two overhauls.
The Ministry stated in December 1999 that since BMP-I vehicles was out of production in the country of origin, requirment of life time buy had been projected taking due care not to overstock and at the same time to cater for providing engineer support to maintain BMP-I till 2019. The Ministry's contention was not tenable as first overhaul of BMP-I would stand completed by 2006 and thereafter overhaul of BMP-II vehicles would commence, there would be no spare capacity in the Army Base Workshop to carry out the second overhaul of any BMP-I vehicle.
In November 2005 the Vehicle Research & Development Establishment (VRDE), Ahmednagar, has handed over the Armoured Engineer Recce Vehicle (AERV) to the Indian Army. The AERV has been designed and developed by the VRDE, one of the Institutes under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), in association with sister lab, Research & Development Establishments (Engineers) R&DE (E), Pune. The AERV is a versatile vehicle developed for the Corps of Engineers of the Indian Army for carrying out terrestrial and riverbed survey prior to an assault operation. The AERV is based on SARATH (BMP-II) Amphibious Infantry Combat Vehicle manufactured at Ordnance Factory, Medak. It is equipped with modern systems designed by DRDO and produced in collaboration with BEL, Pune, to excel in hostile terrains and environment. The onboard instrumentation facilitates military engineers to decide on the equipment and resources necessary for bridging, preparation of track ways and construction of ferry sites.
Indian Army intends to outsource overhaul of Tank T-72 M1 and Infantry Combat Vehicle BMP-II to a capable vendor from Indian public / private sector. Presently, the Indian Army is carrying out overhaul of its armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) through its army base workshops (ABWs) as well as ordnance factories (Heavy Vehicles Factory, Avadi and Ordnance Factory Project, Medak). HVF Avadi and OFP, Medak are manufacturing these tanks/ ICVs and their variants under licensed production Life cycle maintenance philosophy of AFVs in Indian Army can be broadly divided into three categories. These are as under:
- (a) Field Repairs. Carried out by light repair/ field repair / armoured workshops deployed in field formations.
- (b) Medium Repair (MR). Extensive maintenance, repair and change of certain major unit assemblies (MUAs) carried out at Corps Zone Workshops. Medium repairs are carried out three times during entire life cycle of an AFV. The periodicity of three MRs is dovetailed with the periodicity of base overhaul to ensure operational reliability of the AFV deployed in field.
- (c) Base Overhaul (BOH). Complete stripping, extensive repair and rebuild including fitment of new/ overhauled MUAs carried out after 15 to 16 yrs of equipment usage. Base overhaul involves restoration of equipment to as good as new, rendering a fresh lease of life for enhanced serviceability and operational reliability for residual life of an AFV
Base overhaul of an AFV involves major replacement/ repair/ reclamation effort for each system / subsystem/ major unit assemblies/ component. While certain major unit assemblies are replaced with new ones, other assemblies are either repaired or reclaimed. The decision to replace or repair a particular assembly/ sub assembly is based on manufacturer’s recommendations, criticality, wear and tear, cost of repair vs replacement and availability of spares. Similarly, decision regarding level of repairs in each subsystem down to assembly/sub assembly/ component is also guided by factors such as OEM’s recommendation, cost, available expertise, time taken to repair, criticality and failure pattern.
The bill of material for overhaul of each system/ sub system/ assembly/ component is formulated during the first/pilot overhaul of a limited number of equipment. The bill of material/ scale for provisioning of assemblies/ sub assemblies/ spares for further overhaul of equipment is prepared after pilot overhaul and termed as overhaul scale. Each assembly/ sub assembly/ component is thus provisioned as per scaled percentage to cater for yearly overhaul targets.
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 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. 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 Indian Defense Ministry on 29 October 2015 approved the acquisition of 149 BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles to be built in the country under license from Russia. The decision, adopted by the ministry's Defense Acquisitions Council (DAC), came shortly before Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar departed on visit to Russia.
India was set to spend over $140 million to acquire new army vehicles. A potential contract for 149 BMP-2 stipulates the licensed assembly of military vehicles directly in India at the facilities of one of the plants of the Ordnance Factory Board, a state holding company for the production of ammunition, weapons and vehicles. The details of the contract were due to be discussed during Parrikar's visit to Moscow.