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By Bulbul Singh

16 Nov 12. After failing to find competent defence companies at home to join hands in the design and building of India’s indigenous Futuristic Main Battle Tank (FMBT), India is to enter the global market to find global partners in the project. The $20 billion FMBT project has been on the shelf for the last three years, as domestic automobile companies both in the private and state-owned sector have not come up to the expectations of Defence Research and Development Organization, (DRDO) whom will execute the FMBT project. DRDO’s Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment(CVRDE) has been entrusted with the contract to design and develop the FMBT project under the ‘Make India’ category. Expressions of Interest for partnering the FMBT project in the design stage are being sent to defence companies in United Kingdom, France, Germany, Poland, United States South Korea and Russia.

While the design and development cost of the FMBT will cost only $1.2 billion, the Indian Army’s requirement will be worth over $20 billion as over 2000 T-72 tanks will be replaced by the FMBT as well as the planned additional regiments of tanks.

DRDO has evaluated presentations made by Tata Motors, Mahindra and Mahindra, Ashok Leyland amongst other for the FMBT project but none have been found to have the necessary competence to partner in the FMBT project in the design and production phase. India has designated the FMBT project to be built in the ‘Make-India’ category to help boost the domestic industry. Industrial lobbying agencies have been advocating building defence projects in the Make India category including the FMBT project. However, the domestic industry does not have the technical knowhow and the ability to absorb modern technologies to build advance weapons projects, said an official of the Indian defence ministry.

“Given the slow pace of the FMBT project in the ‘Make-India’ category there is a chance that the project will have to be shifted to the ‘Buy and Make’ category at a later stage.” indicated an official.

The FMBT is planned to be a 40 tonne tank which would be lighter than the Arjun which now weighs 60 tonnes and would be mounted with a 125mm gun. Six prototypes of the FMBT are proposed to be developed by 2020 before the tank gets into bulk production. The DRDO will form a consortium for design a development of the tank. In the ‘Make India’ category, the Indian government pays up to 80 per cent of the development cost of the tank and the remaining twenty percent will be borne by the designated developers. The project is proposed to be a 100% home produced project.

The FMBT aims to have several advanced features such as capability to fire kinetic weapons and missiles, active protection system, active and hybrid armour against IEDs, night fighting capability, surveillance and
reconnaissance capability.

The tank will have third generation transmission system, integrated fire control system with laser rangefinders, a battlefield management system and mine detection system. The other highlights of the proposed FMBT will be a self-protection system against enemy projectiles.

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