India’s $57 Billion Futuristic Tank Development Program

The Indian Army plans to acquire 1,770 technologically advanced Future Ready Combat Vehicles (FRCVs) under a $57 billion indigenous project to replace its ageing Russian-origin T-72 fleet after 2030. A request for proposal (RFP) is likely to be released this year, for selecting Indian manufacturers through a competitive process.

Envisaged Technology Capabilities

The 50-tonne tanks will incorporate Artificial Intelligence, integration of drones, network-centric warfare capabilities, active protection systems and enhanced electronics. Manned-unmanned teaming and augmented crew visualization are other highlights matching global benchmarks.

Acquisition & Induction Plans

The program will be pursued in three phases stretching over a decade leveraging iterative technological innovations.  590 units of Future Ready Combat Vehicles (FRCVs) will be inducted in the first phase.

Each batch will see incremental capabilities enhancement beyond weaponry, mobility and armoured protection to maximise battlefield effectiveness into coming decades.

Mitigating Recent War Limitations

Indian Army aims to adopt a holistic approach averting limitations of platform-centric use of tanks as exposed during Russia-Ukraine conflict. This entails all-encompassing operational integration encompassing infantry, artillery, logistical modules etc complementing armoured thrusts.

T-72 family tanks

The T-72 is a family of Soviet main battle tanks that entered production in 1969. About 25,000 T-72 tanks have been built, and refurbishment has enabled many to remain in service for decades. It has been widely exported and has seen service in 40 countries and in numerous situations. Production and development of various modernized T-72 models continues today.

Ongoing Modernisation Efforts

While FRCV takes shape progressively, ongoing tank capability building continues in parallel. In addition to ongoing procurement and upgrade initiatives, the Indian Army  has so far inducted 1,200 T-90S ‘Bhishma’ tanks.  It also plans to induct the first batch of 118 indigenous Arjun Mark-1A tanks this year. These tanks come equipped with various upgrades to boost firepower, mobility, endurance, and protection.

Furthermore, the Army is set to deploy 354 indigenous light tanks for high-altitude warfare under ‘Project Zorawar’. These tanks, designed for superior performance in mountainous terrain, will complement existing tank capabilities, particularly in regions like eastern Ladakh.

Meanwhile, several upgrade projects are underway to enhance the operational capabilities of existing tank fleets. This includes the installation of 1000-horsepower engines in T-72 tanks, along with advanced thermal sights, fire detection systems, and other enhancements.

Changes in Parameters of Battle Tanks

The Indian Army recently undertook a significant revision of the parameters for the upcoming Future Ready Combat Vehicle (FRCV) tank, which is slated for local manufacturing starting in 2030. This revision comes as a response of  the new level of challenges observed during the Russia-Ukraine war. As a result, the FRCV has shifted towards a heavier-weight 55-57ton tank configuration, signifying a change in tank design and capabilities.

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