The $8-billion Future Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) project for the Indian Army is likely to be taken up by the Defence Procurement Board (DPB) next week. The board is headed by the defence secretary. A source told FE: “As per the procedure, once the DPB addresses some issues related to the FICV project raised by certain companies earlier this year, it will go to the Defence Acquisition Council.” A lot of issues – mostly procedural in nature – seem to be hampering progress in the project. There also seems to be no clarity over the number of development agencies the ministry of defence (MoD) would need to have for this programme. After the strategic partnership (SP) model got approval from the Cabinet Committee on Security, the MoD is trying to put pending programmes back on track.
As earlier reported by FE, under the approved SP model, for the armoured vehicle segment, the first would be Future Infantry Combat Vehicle, which is currently being considered under the ‘Make’ category in DPP-2008. The Indian companies trying for the order of 2,610 such vehicles include L&T, Mahindra, TATA, Bharat Forge and Ashok Leyland. The potential OEM will include US-based General Dynamic, Russian companies under the umbrella of Rosoboronexport, and German Rheinmetall – subject to approval – among others. Earlier this year the MoD was keen to announce its final decision, however, it could not happen due to various representations made by companies keen to participate in the programme. The companies have been meeting with the defence minister independently and making representations. Responding to a question, then defence minister Manohar Parrikar had said in February that “everything has been discussed about the project and there are certain aspects that are to be finalised”.
The Indian Army had issued a request for information (RFI) in June 2015 to design and develop a new-generation combat vehicle platform called the Future Ready Combat Vehicle (FRCV). Under the project, 2,610 FICVs are expected to be built. The RFI is for the development of a base platform for the main battle tank, which is planned to replace the existing T-72 tanks in the armoured corps. It is also planned to subsequently develop other need-based variants on this platform. Project FICV will have an expected life span of 32 years. FICV EoI was issued under the DPP-2008 and it has recommended a minimum 40% indigenous content as compared to the 30% indigenous content.
The FICV is a high-mobility armoured battle vehicle for ferrying infantry men. It will replace the Army’s fleet of 2,610 Russian-designed BMP series armed vehicles in operation since 1980. Once a prototype is successfully tested and validated, around 2,610 such systems or upgraded ones will be procured by the MoD and the delivery will be in a phased manner. These prototypes would be evaluated for their performance in plain and desert terrains.