India's Future Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) (Representative Image)
The Indian government is likely to expedite three major defense programs that include the Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV), the Tactical Communication System (TCS) and the Battlefield Management System (BMS) and is likely to approve them by year-end.
Indian Defense minister, Nirmala Sitharaman has guaranteed the industry that decisions on these three projects will be expedited and approved in a time-bound manner by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BusinessLine quoted unnamed sources as saying Friday.
The news daily reported that during a meeting last week, the defense minister, and defense secretary Sanjay Mitra have assured the industry of clearing the deals worth $20 billion by December 31.
Some of these mega projects have been stuck due to placement of development orders. However, it seems the government will now identify the manufacturers, who will be asked to produce a prototype for a final approval, sources said.
The Indian Army had issued a Request for Information (RFI) in June 2015 to design and develop a new generation combat vehicle platform called the Future Ready Combat Vehicle (FRCV).
The RFI is for the development of a 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.
Under the $12-billion FICV project the government aims to purchase over 2,300 units of such vehicles for the Army. Indias L&T, Mahindra Defense, Tata Motors, Bharat Forge and Reliance Defense are the contenders for the program.
The potential original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) will include US-based General Dynamics, Russian companies under the umbrella of Rosoboronexport and the German Rheinmetall Group, subject to approval, among others.
The earlier EoI for FICV, which is expected to have a life span of 32 years, was issued under the DPP-2008 and it has recommended a minimum 40% indigenous content.
The TCS and BMS programmes are now undergoing yet another round of valuation by the Army. Together these programmes, that will enable the Army to take a quantum leap in sophisticated warfare, are worth around $8 billion.
While the BMS seeks to integrate all the combat units of the Army such as artillery, infantry battalions, armoured and others, the TCS is meant for offensive operations.
For the BMS, some of the global OEMs queuing up for these projects are Israel Aerospace Industries, Rafael and Elbit of Israel; Thales and Nexter of France; Rhode & Schwartz of Germany; BAE Systems of the UK; Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and General Dynamics of the US; and, Selex of Italy.