A fresh Request for Information (RFI) to procure over 1,700 Future Ready Combat Vehicles (FRCVs) by the Indian Army has reached twelve manufacturers (Original Equipment Manufacturers). The RFI for the future tanks is going to be through the Strategic Partnership (SP) route and the induction of which is expected to be completed by 2030.
According to a senior officer, “The FRCV platform which the Indian Army is looking for is expected to be for future warfare and is also expected to have the capability to be used on other specialised fighting vehicles.”
Which countries/companies received the RFI and what will be offered?
The OEMs include: France Leclerc Nexter; Russia 1) T-90 & T-14 Armata Uralvagonzavod marketed by Rosoboronexpo (ROE); South Korea K1 Hyundai Rotem; USA M1AX (Abrams) General Dynamics; Germany Leopard KMW and Rheinmetall; Ukraine T – 84 Malyshev Plant marketed by Spectstechno Expo; Italy Ariete Consortium Iveco and Oto Melara (Leonardo); Serbia M – 84 Yugoimport; Israel Merkava Mantak/ Israel Ordnance Corps; UK’s Challenger; and Turkey’s Altay Otokar. And, Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation.
The RFI specifies the requirements
According to the RFI, the Indian Army has plans to get 1,700 FRCVs, Transfer of Technology (ToT), maintenance and training requirements, as well as performance based logistics and engineering support packages.
The companies are expected to respond by mid-September.
What happens to the previous RFI?
In 2017, a RFI was floated for the procurement of FRCV and now it stands cancelled.
Financial Express Online had reported earlier that South Korea based Hyundai Rotem was one of the companies which had expressed interest in producing the USD 5 billion FRCV meant for the Mechanized Forces. The requirement as per the previous RFI was for 2000 units to be produced under the `Make in India’ initiative.
The previous RFI had also specified ToT by the OEM, 40 percent indigenous content, upgrade plans, create ecosystems, and life cycle costs.
The 2017 RFI was issued under the ‘Make’ category and as per Chapter – VII under the Defence Procurement Procedure—2016 — provisions of the Armoured Fighting Vehicle segment of ‘Strategic Partnership’ model route.
Difference between FRCV and Future Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV)
FRCV, is an armoured platform and when inducted in the Indian Army, will be used primarily for the Main Battle Tank (MBT).
The procurement of the FRCV is expected to replace the Indian Army’s old fleet of 2,414 Soviet-origin T-72 tanks. The FRCV is expected to be medium weight (45-50 ton). It is expected to operate in different terrains – like high altitude areas, developed, and desert terrain.
The Indian Army was looking for FICV for the replacement of obsolete BMP II (procured in mid-1980’s) which began its journey through an AON (Acceptance of Necessity) in Oct 2009, under DPP 2008, Make Chapter. This was for 2610 combat vehicles. However, as reported by the Financial Express Online, earlier, this FICV has been launched two times through Expression of Interest in 2010 and later in 2015. After undergoing several rounds of tedious evaluations by IPMT, the project has been put on hold.
What is the Indian Army keen on?
The Russian T-14 Armata, Ukrainian Oplot, French LeClerc and South Korean K2 Black Panther main battle tanks, preferred last time.
According to sources, the American M1 Abrams and the German Leopard due their heavy weight may not fit the specifications mentioned in the RFI.
In the previous RFI Indian companies including Tata Motors, Reliance Defence and Engineering Limited, Mahindra Group, Bharat Forge, Punj Lloyd, Tata Power SED, Titagarh Wagons, and Tractors India had expressed interest in forming a joint venture with the OEMs.
As reported earlier, the FRCVs are expected to have different variants: air-defense gun/missile system; artillery observation post vehicle; engineer reconnaissance vehicle; tracked main battle tank; tracked light tank; wheeled version; bridge layer tank; trawl tank; mine ploughs; armoured recovery vehicle; self-propelled artillery gun/howitzer; and armoured ambulance role.