Competition in sight to supply 2,600 infantry combat vehicles to Indian army

India is planning to fast-track the induction of some 2,600 Future Infantry Combat Vehicles (FICV). A harsh competition is beginning to win a part or the whole market, as reported by Mayank Singh in The Indian Express.

Competition in sight to supply 2600 infantry combat vehicles to Indian army
Will the indigenous WhAP be among the competing vehicles for the FICV market, provided a wheeled vehicle is preferred to a tracked one? (Picture source: Army Recognition)

Among those vying for the new $8 billion market being opened by the Indian army are Mahindra & Mahindra, Titagarh Wagons, Tatas, DRDO and Reliance Defence and Engineering. The foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers who have also evinced interest in participating in the project include Russian firms under the umbrella of Rosoboronexport, US-based General Dynamic and Germany’s Rheinmetall.

The Indian Army currently has some 49 Mechanised Infantry Battalions. According to former Major General SB Asthana, the future ICV will be used in all sectors that face a threat, including the crucial northern, western and eastern sectors. “It will swim crossing water obstacles, move across country and will even operate in the valleys of Sikkim and Ladakh.”

Keeping in mind the need for speed, the FICVs are planned as fast-moving military automobile vehicles with the ability to not only cross difficult terrains, but also defend themselves against enemy fire and the flexibility to drop infantry sections in the middle of a war zone. So far, India uses Soviet-designed BMP-1, BMP-2 and BTR-70 armoured personnel carriers. The mainstay has been BMP-2 Sarath manufactured by the Ordnance Factory Medak under a licence from Russia.

However, the FICV project is stuck, as sources say the industry and the end-user, Army, have not been able to agree on common ground. While the Ministry of Defence expects up to 90 per cent of investment to develop the FICV prototypes to come from the private industry, sources reveal the industry is reluctant to invest heavily without commitments from the Army. Initial investment to develop two prototypes is estimated to be around Rs 800 crore, which the government wants the industry to bear. Industry on its part feels that globally, such developments are underwritten by the State.


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