Future Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) – The Most Ambitious MII Project

The Future Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) for the Indian Army represents the most ambitious Make in India (MII) project so far with complete designing, development, production and life cycle support to be the responsibility of the selected company.

Though planned under the provisions of the Defence Procurement Procedure 2008 the underlying MII component is evident with principle agencies for development to be selected from the ten to whom the Expression of Interest (EOI) has been issued in July 2015.

These include some of the premium private sector companies - Larsen & Toubro (L&T); Tata Power (Strategic Engineering Division); Tata Motors; Mahindra & Mahindra; Bharat Forge; Pipavav Defence; Rolta India; Punj Lloyd; Titagarh Wagons and the government owned Ordnance Factory Board (OFB).

The complexity of the project and the criteria laid down in the EOI entails that these companies are now forming consortia to enable participation in the competition. While the OFB has been given a free pass as per the Business Standard, two of the nine private security companies will be finally selected for the project.

Business Standard reports that Tata Motors would be bidding along with Bharat Forge with a technology partnership with General Dynamics (GD) maker of the US Army's famous M-1 Abrams tank; and Stryker ICV. Tata Power (SED) will bid on its own whereas L&T and Mahindras are planning a joint bid with technology from UK-based BAE Systems.

The OFB is likely to partner with Israeli firms who have developed the Merkava and may be the dark horse given that it does not have to compete in the first stage for selection of the Development Agency.

After experience of the previous EOI in 2012 which did not include the criteria for selection of the DA, Ministry of Defence has now issued details of the same in four categories, Commercial Assessment, Technical Capability Assessment, Critical Technology Assessment and Technical Specification Assessment.

Outlining some of the key characteristics the FICV is expected to have advanced operational capabilities with state of the art technologies for operations in plain and desert terrain and will comprise of a family of variants. The trial evaluation will therefore be carried out in the plains and the desert sectors.

The tracked vehicle is expected to have an amphibious Capability with full combat load to be able to carry a crew of three and a stick of minimum eight personnel with combat loads. Transportability for tactical, operational and strategic mobility is anticipated.

The principle weapon system is likely to be a fourth generation fire and forget Anti Tank Guided Missile with a range of over 4000 m with Lock on Before Launch (LOBL) or Lock on After Launch (LOAL) capabilities. The selected vendor is likely to be tested in terms of ability to provide technology for the Engine, Armoured protection, Gun and munition, transmission and steering and running gear.

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