20 March 2016

Future Tanks for the Indian Army – Do You Have it in You?


A Challenge For Indian Defence Companies
Indian Army has 62 armoured regiments, thus the total requirement of tanks would close to 4000. The present holding of tanks of the Army as per the IISS Military Balance 2014 is 2874 tanks. Of these 124 are indigenously produced Arjun, 1950 are T 72 Ajeya S which is an upgraded version of the Russian imported armoured fighting vehcile and 800 T 90 S tanks christened as Bhishma. India plans to induct 1620 T 90 S tanks which are being assembled cum manufactured in Heavy Vehicles Factory Chennai, unit of the Ordnance Factory Board, under the Ministry of Defence.
Given the futuristic requirement, the Indian Army is planning to design and develop a new generation, state-of-the-art combat vehicle platform for populating its Armoured Fighting Vehicle fleet in the coming decade as indicated in the Request for Information issued by the Directorate General of Mechanised Forces (DGMF) General Staff Branch Integrated HQ of Ministry of Defence (Army) on 10 June 2015.

This vehicle, which will be called the Future Ready Combat Vehicle (FRCV), will form the 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.
This armoured 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). 
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:-

(a) Tracked Main Battle Tank -Primary variant.

(b) Tracked Light Tank.

(c) Wheeled Version.

(d) Bridge Layer Tank (BLT).

(e) Trawl Tank and Mine Ploughs.

(f) Armoured Recovery Vehicle (ARV).

(g) Self Propelled Artillery Gun/Howitzer.

(h) Air Defence Gun/Msl System.

(j) Artillery Observation Post Vehicle.

(k) Engineer Reconnaissance Vehicle.

(l) Armoured Ambulance.

FRCV Development Process

The FRCV is planned to be a Design and Development project, to be executed in three stages as under:-

(a) Design Stage.

(b) Prototype Development Stage.

(c) 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.

(a) Design Stage. In this 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.

(b) 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).

(c) 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.

The criteria for assessment has not been specified by the DGMF but is likely to be firstly whether these meet the basic QRs which have been identified, technical including the critical technology and specifications. Commercial criteria may be at this stage somewhat lower down the order at this stage but the potential of the companies to deliver would be the way ahead.

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