Indian Army Plans 'Future Ready Combat Vehicle' To Replace Soviet-Era T-72 Armored Fleet

By Arming India Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Indian Army is planning to design and develop a new generation, state-of-the-art combat vehicle platform for its armored and mechanized forces in the next decade and it has sought information from global and Indian defense firms to state by July 31, 2015 if they could do it.

These combat vehicles will replace the Indian Army's Soviet-era T-72 battle tanks in the Armored Corps and its induction has been planned for 2025-27 period, according to a Request for Information (RFI) put up by the Army on its website on June 12, 2015.

The Indian Army has called this next generation fighting machine as the Future Ready Combat Vehicle or FRCV. Whether this RFI is an indirect vote of no-confidence by the Indian Army in India's Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which is already in the process of designing and developing a Future Main Battle Tank (or just FMBT) to replace the T-72 fleet is not clear yet, though.

The Army has, however, expressed its intent to populate its armored fighting vehicle fleet with the FRCV and also to subsequently develop 10 more need-based variants in various roles, with the first 'tracked' variant of the FRCV as the base vehicle for the future variants.

"The Indian Army is planning to design and develop a new generation, state-of-the-art combat vehicle platform for populating its Armored Fighting Vehicle fleet in the coming decade. 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 Armored Corps. It is also planned to subsequently develop other need-based variants on this platform," the RFI, dated June 10, said.

The FRCV is planned to be a Design and Development project, to be executed in three stages: Design, Prototype Development, and Production stages. The RFI has been issued by the Directorate General of Mechanised Forces (DGMF).

"With a view to identify probable designers/design bureaus who can undertake the Design stage of the FRCV Project, interested parties are requested to forward information on the work they can undertake," the RFI said, indicating that its purpose is limited to the first stage of the three-state FRCV Project.

Here is what the RFI document says about the work it wants done:

Design And Development Of FRCV

1. The Indian Army is seeking development of futuristic combat vehicle for induction by 2025-27. This 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).

2. 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.

3. 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) Armored Recovery Vehicle (ARV) (g) Self Propelled Artillery Gun/Howitzer (h) Air Defense Gun/Missile System (j) Artillery Observation Post Vehicle (k) Engineer Reconnaissance Vehicle and (l) Armored Ambulance.

FRCV Development Process

4. In this process, the development of FRCV will be in three separate stages, namely Design stage, Prototype Development stage and Production stage. The Design Agency and Developing Agency can be separate entities. The best design will be chosen and given to nominated Development Agency(s) for production of the prototype(s). The selected prototype will be given to Production Agency(s) (PAs) for bulk production.

Details of the three stages are as under:

(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 among domain experts and representatives of concerned defense agencies. The selection will be based on detailed and comprehensive Evaluation Criteria.

(b) Prototype Development Stage - The selected design will be given to nominated Development Agencies. These Development Agencies 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 Development Agency(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 for bulk production.

Broad Framework Of The Design Competition

5. While the detailed guidelines and the operational requirements/design philosophy of the FRCV will be articulated later, the broad framework of the proposed Design Competition is as under:

(a) The Design Competition will be open to tank design bureaus/agencies from within and outside the country, and will be conducted in two stages.

(b) In the first stage, based on the operational requirements and design philosophy given out, participants will submit broad concept designs, giving out the outline configuration and layout of the platform. These will be evaluated and shortlisted by the Design Selection Committee, under the aegis of DGMF.

(c) In the second stage, shortlisted participants will be asked to submit detailed designs of the FRCV platform on a common software platform. The detailed designs will be evaluated by the Design Selection Committee. The best design(s) will be shortlisted in order of innovative design and suitability for Indian Army. The winning design(s) will carry suitable cash prize(s).

(d) The winning design(s) will become the sole property of the Indian Army.

6. The agency/bureau whose designs are selected will require to continue to work on the project through the prototype and the Limited Series Production (LSP) stages. For this, a separate contract will be drawn. The agency/bureaus participating in this competition will mandatorily have to give an undertaking to this effect while applying for the competition.

Brief Description Of FRCV

7. The FRCV will be a fighting vehicle platform that will be required to conduct sustained continuous operations by day and night in all weather conditions in terrain and temperature ranges obtaining on India's western borders.

8. The design should be modular and compact to enable strategic, operational and battlefield mobility, as also facilitate up-gradation, easy replacement/ repair of assemblies and production of variants. The FRCV platform should enable creation of variants for employment in various operational roles in all terrain by varying its configuration and/or weight/armor envelopes.

9. The salient operational characteristics of the FRCV are as under:

(a) Dimensions - The FRCV should be in the 'Medium Tank' category whose physical dimensions should facilitate transportability over existing terrain, in-service military bridges and major civilian infrastructure (including bridges) in the border areas (on either side of the western border).

(b) Crew - The number of crew members should be such that they can perform their designated tasks, and operate all on-board systems without hindrance and without any overlapping of duties/responsibilities.

(c) Fire Power - (i) Should be well matched to contemporary MBTs in engagement ranges, all-weather day/night fighting capability, depth of penetration and variety of ammunition, and (ii) Should have very high accuracy [High FRHP (First Round Hit Probability)] and very high lethality [High SSKP (Single Shot Kill Probability)], at par with contemporary MBTs.

(d) Protection - (i) Should provide very high all-round protection, including ballistic, active and any other form of anti-armor technologies, to ensure survivability in the contemporary and future battlefield, (ii) Should incorporate signature reduction technologies, and (iii) High response evasion/anti-detection system.

(e) Mobility - (i) Should have adequately high power-to-weight ratio to enable all on-board systems to be run simultaneously, without disrupting the agility and mobility of the vehicle, and (ii) Should have high operating range, comparable to contemporary MBTs.








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