Indian Army to replace BMP-2 with FICV combat vehicles launching attack and surveillance drones
According to TheWeek, the Indian Army on June 23 published a detailed request for information (RFI) from suppliers soliciting proposals to supply Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicles (FICV). The goal is to purchase up to 1,750 FICVs in three versions: 'gun version', command post version, and command and surveillance version. The Indian Army specifies the FICVs will be procured in the spirit of ‘Make in India’ and ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ programmes.
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FICV concept by Tata Motors (Drawing source: Tata Motors)
The 'gun version' designed for combat roles will constitute the bulk of the intended order quantity (55 percent). The Indian Army RFI specifies that the FICV should be equipped with at least a 30mm main gun and anti-tank missiles. The vehicle should be capable of carrying a crew of three and at least eight soldiers
The command and surveillance versions will be used by battlefield commanders to direct operations and communicate with various staff/command levels. The FICVs should have a crew of three and should carry four soldiers. It should be capable of carrying drones for surveillance and also suicide strike missions (known as 'loitering munitions'). The Indian Army has specified that the command and command and surveillance versions must be capable of carrying drones for surveillance and suicide strike missions (loitering munitions)
In addition to loitering munitions, the Indian Army RFI specifies the command and surveillance version of the FICV carry one 'mini' vertical take-off and landing UAV, having an endurance of at least 60 minutes and a range of 10km. It must provide real-time high-definition colour imagery and video back to the FICV to enable engagement by other weapon systems like mortars, loiter munition, artillery, attack helicopters, etc.
The Indian Army intends to replace the 1980s-vintage BMP-2 and deploy it on the "plain and desert terrain as occurring along western borders of India and high altitude (up to 5,000 meters) / mountain terrain as occurring along northern borders (Eastern Ladakh/ Central Sector / North Sikkim) of India".
TheWeek recalls that proposals to develop a replacement for the BMP-2 have been hanging fire for two decades. In the late 1990s, the DRDO began work on the 'Abhay', a technology demonstrator vehicle that would provide the basis to begin replacing the BMP-2. Multiple proposals have been put forth to develop the FICV as a public-private partnership, with initial figures saying up to 3,000 vehicles would be bought at a total price of $10 billion. However, these proposals have not come to fruition.