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By Bulbul Singh

25 Oct 12. India’s $ 11 billion Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) programme is likely to be delayed as the Indian defence ministry is considering floating fresh Expressions of Interests. The decision to float fresh bids has arisen because the 2010 Expressions of Interests have not detailed the criteria for selection of the vendors, a requirement under law.

The Indian Defence Minister, A K Antony is himself in favour of fulfilling such a procedure despite the programme being two years down in various stages of negotiations after the floating of Expressions of Interests in 2010.

The FICV project is under the “Make India” category under which the Indian government will pay up to 80 per cent of the development cost of the programme while the short listed Indian company or developer will spend the remaining 20 per cent. The selected finalist, based on the performance of the prototype and user trials of the product will be contracted to produce the FICV which will replace the aging Russian BMP-2 infantry combat vehicles with the Indian Army.

The Indian Army, meanwhile has evaluated the technical reports of the competitors which include Tata Motors, Mahindra Defence, Larsen & Toubro and state owned Ordnance Factories Board. The due diligence has also been completed.

Sources say so far the Indian Army has not been able to conclude if any of Indian companies are in a position to make the FICV on time.

The FICV project envisages producing 2600 combat vehicles to replace the Russian BMP vehicles at a cost of over $11 billion.

The FICV project was approved nearly three years ago. Since then domestic Mahindra Defence Systems has tied up with BAE of United Kingdom, Larsen & Toubro has worked on a tie up with Samsung of South Korea. Tata Motors is also working a tie up with overseas companies but have not found any, after its tie up with Rheinmetall had to be stalled following the blacklisting of the Swedish company. State Owned Ordnance Factories Board is also in the race.

The FICV looked going through early after the Indian defence ministry fast tracked the indigenous Tactical Communication System (TCS) worth over $2 billion in June this year. However the latest decision of
the Indian defence ministry to float fresh Expressions of Interest is likely to delay the process by another one year at least said an Indian Army official.

The FICV project is patterned on the American defence procurement model, in which the Pentagon funds a development competition between two or more private companies for each new weapons system. So far New Delhi has usually nominated the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to develop such systems and the OFB to manufacture them.

However, the performance of the domestic private sector vendors for the first time in the Make project will determine their reliability as a partner in Make defence projects.

The Fresh Expressions of Interest will be issued inviting Indian companies to design and develop the FICV under the ‘Make India’ category.

The broad specifications of the FICV include Combat weight less than 20 tonnes, Power to weight ratio 25:1 hp/t, Amphibious capability,
Potent fire power including, 3rd Gen fire & forget Anti Tank Guided
Missiles (ATGM), Main gun firing Armoured Piercing Fin-Stabilized
Discarding Sabot(APFSDS) and High Explosive (HE) ammunition, directed energy weapon, Automatic Grenade Launcher and co-axial machine gun.
In addition the FICV should have an Integrated fire control system, Active protection system, Defensive aid suite to protect against laser/thermal/radar guided munitions, NBC protection system, IFDSS (Integrated fire detection and suppression system), have Stealth features and be equipped with Battle Management System and IFF.

The FICV will also perform the functions of target acquisition, tracking, data, computation, and engagement control, primarily using e

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