The long-pending FICV programme offers a huge opportunity for the Indian private sector
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On The Perch

The long-pending FICV programme offers a huge opportunity for the Indian private sector

Himanshu Pal

The Indian Army’s Future Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) programme, which has been hanging fire for nearly a decade, may finally see the light at the end of the tunnel soon. In his inaugural speech at Aero India 2017, former defence minister Manohar Parrikar announced that the programme is likely to be cleared shortly. He said, “A few bottlenecks are left, which will be removed in a few weeks.” Once cleared, this will be the biggest opportunity so far for the Indian private sector.

The FICV is being developed with an aim to enhance the combat abilities of the Indian Army. Around 2,610 FICV will replace its ageing fleet of Russian BMP-2. There are more than 900 BMP-2 units in service which will retire by 2030. As per recent updates, the project will take off soon after the Defence Production Board (DPB) declares the names of the development agency (DA).

The FICV is basically an armoured infantry carrying vehicle to transport soldiers in a protected shell during combat situation. The FICV, once developed, will be capable of carrying seven-eight soldiers and a standard crew of three. It will weigh around 20 tonnes so that if required it can be air lifted or transported by any other means. The Indian Army expects 3,000 modern FICVs to be operational by 2032.

Indian private defence manufacturers are in a win-win situation as they have an opportunity to work on one of the biggest indigenous defence project. In the list of bidders there are five companies in the fray Larsen and Toubro (L&T), TATA, Mahindra & Mahindra, Bharat Forge, Pipavav Defence and Offshore Engineering (now Reliance defence). In an interview given to FORCE, senior vice president and head defence of L&T, J D Patil said, “We believe the evaluation has been completed by the Integrated Project Management Teams (IPMT), and the same is under review by other stakeholders in the ministry of defence (MoD). For such a large and complex programme of national importance, few iterations and clarifications on the evaluation are only to be expected. With the right leadership in the government, the right mindset and approach, we expect that the shortlisting of the development agencies will be announced shortly.”

A model of DRDO’s Abhay infantry combat vehicle
A model of DRDO’s Abhay infantry combat vehicle

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