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India approves plans to procure Future Ready Combat Vehicles

The Indian Army seeks to upgrade its T-90 MBTs with 1,200–1,500 hp engines. The image shows a T-90 MBT at an Indian Army exercise in November 2022. (Janes/Kapil Kajal)

The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has approved plans to procure Future Ready Combat Vehicles (FRCVs) and engines to upgrade in-service T-90 main battle tanks (MBTs).

The two projects were granted ‘Approval in Principle' (AIP) by the MoD in late May. The MoD said the programmes will proceed under the government-funded ‘Make-I' category.

The FRCV project features the acquisition of 590 vehicles in the first phase, said the MoD. The vehicles intend to replace the Indian Army's ageing fleet of licence-built Russian T-72 MBTs.

The Indian Army issued a FRCV request for information (RFI) in June 2021 in which it said it sought to procure a total of 1,770 vehicles over several phases.

According to the AIP document, the procured FRCV, which can be operated by four troops, must not weigh more than 55 tonnes.

The vehicles should have a main gun with a minimum calibre of 120 mm. The gun should fire armour-piercing fin-stabilised discarding sabot (APFSDS), highly explosive (HE), and high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) ammunitions. It should also fire anti-tank and anti-helicopter missiles.

The secondary armament of the FRCV must comprise a 7.62 mm co-axial machine gun and a 12.7 mm anti-aircraft machine gun (AAMG).

The fire-control system of the vehicle must be incorporated with artificial intelligence (AI) decision support, hunter-killer and killer-killer mode, automatic target detection and tracking system (ATDTS), battlefield management system (BMS), and identification of friend-or-foe (IFF) system.

The vehicle must have an engine with a minimum of 1,500 hp and a fully digitised system capable of human-machine teaming and control of unmanned ground and aerial vehicles.

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