SOURCE: VISHAL KARPE / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
Indian Army in its efforts to replace 2,400+ aging Soviet-origin T-72 tanks has issued a global request for information (RFI) for development and procurement of 1,770 multipurpose Future Ready Combat Vehicles (FRCVs) from global manufacturers to develop a next-generation base platform for the Main Battle Tank upon which need-based variants will be developed.
Design and Development of FRCV are to be planned and executed in three stages, (a) Design Stage. (b) Prototype Development Stage. (c) Production Stage which will be ready for induction by 2025-27. 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 as per RFI.
RFI also stresses on the development of a family of 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.
RFI specifically asks for a Tank in `Medium category ’ thus proposing an under 50-tonne tracked FRCV with ± 15% extra margin which arounds up to the max allowed the weight of 57.50-tonne thus automatically eliminating any further scope for development of next-generation modern battle tanks based on India’s Arjun tank platform.
`Medium category ’ and Technical requirements mentioned in RFI issued seems to be tailored made to make way for procurement of third-generation Russian designed T-14 main battle tanks (MBT) which require a high degree of Transfer of Technology along with army specified local customisation.
T-14 Armata is only Next Generation Battle tank which will enter production soon which has no direct rival in its category since western and European countries are still focusing on the development of new generation of main battle tanks based on their existing tank platforms which can be only described as ` Heavy category ’ Battle tanks.
Russia’s premier tank maker ” Uralvagonzavod (UVZ)” already had shown interest in participating in India’s FRCV RFI, which will be executed under India’s strategic partnership policy in defense. Strategic partnership policy allows selected private firms to build military platforms like Main Battle Tanks in India in partnership with foreign entities.
Russian Army will be inducting nearly 100 T-14 Armata by 2020 and post that it will enter mass production and around 2500 units are likely to be procured by 2030. Indian Army’s close association with Russian/Soviet-developed T-Series Main Battle Tanks and clear preference to Russian Tanks has left little doubt that Indian Army is clearly making all efforts to procure T-14 Armata based on Indian Customization.