Despite receiving responses to the RFI for $1.8-billion upgrade programme of 1,500 BMP-2/2K tanks with anti-tank guided missile systems and engines for the Indian Army, the government has not yet started the process for evaluation. The upgradation of the Indian Army’s Russian-made BMP-2 Infantry Combat Vehicles (ICV) will include increasing the mobility with change in engine, transmission, gear and suspension system, cooling system, weapons system and ammunition, gunner sighting (day and night), commander sighting, FCS, ATGM, level of protection, and maintainability.
According to sources in MoD, “Companies including L&T, TATA Motors, Ashok Leyland, Titagarh Wagons, Alfa Design, HBL Systems, Bharat Forge (submitted three bids), Mahindra, TATA Power (SED), Ordnance Factory Medak, Chogle Group and D Gipro Systems submitted their responses on August 18 this year.” However, the six months evaluation process that was expected to start in September has not taken off, thus pushing back the whole programme and the issuance of RFP only in late 2017.
“If the evaluation process starts and the RFP is issued by end of 2017, then the likely order will not be before 2022, all depends on the process moving smoothly,” the sources added.
The MoD had decided not to give an exclusive order to state-owned Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) to upgrade the and instead floated a global request for information (RFI) to seek participation by domestic and global defence companies in the upgrade programme.
The Indian defence companies have already started tying-up with overseas defence majors in the run up to the formal tender to upgrade 1,500 BMP-2 Infantry Combat Vehicles. Larsen & Toubro (L&T) has teamed up with MBDA of France; Both OFB and state-owned Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) have tied up separately with Rosoboronexport of Russia. For fire-control systems and thermal imaging sights, India’s private sector company Alpha Design has teamed with Elop of Israel. TATA Power SED is still scouting for an overseas partner, whereas state-owned Bharat Electronics Limited has teamed with Thales of France. For co-producing anti-tank guided missiles, private sector defence major Bharat Forge has signed a memorandum of understanding with Rafael Advanced Systems.
The latest RFI specifies that the overseas defence company will have to transfer technology to the domestic company as the programme will be in the Make in India category, according to sources.