Tanks should operate on western, northern fronts: Army Chief

New Delhi


Future armoured vehicles should have the capability to operate on both northern and western borders, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said on Wednesday.

The Army Chief's remark came days after the Indian Army issued a Request For Information (RFI) for development and manufacturing of Future Ready Combat Vehicle (FRCV) under the Strategic Partnership model.

Director General Mechanised Forces Lt Gen A.B. Shivane, meanwhile, called the project a "game changer".

Addressing a seminar "Future Armoured Vehicles India 2017", General Rawat said the Indian Army was looking at modernising its mechanised forces, adding that there can be no mistake in deciding what capabilities are required in these Future Ready Combat Vehicles.

"Whatever be the future armoured vehicle we are looking at, we must have the capability to operate on the western border and the northern border. Whatever equipment we are going to introduce must be capable of inter-operability on both fronts."

The Army Chief said that with development of canal systems on the western front, the desert areas have become greener and population close to the border has also grown, leaving lesser space for operating the tanks and also bringing in a requirement for building bridges.

"With the canal system developing, we will have to address the requirement of bridges in the manner in which these armoured fighting vehicles are going to negotiate with all this... Therefore, I will say the battlefield will become complex and the terrain will add to the complexities."

General Rawat also said that there is a need to reduce the weight of the machines and to ensure it can operate in a complex terrain as well as be integrated with other systems.

"We will have to look at technology to reduce the weight of our war fighting machines. We will have to overcome terrain with manoeuvering space reducing... Even down south in desert, in that sector hardening of desert has started," he added.

General Rawat said India is looking at modernising its mechanised forces and the new weapon system cannot be seen as a tank alone.

"The future combat vehicle will really be a system of systems. We must decide what we want... what are the capabilities. It must have capability to operate by day and night. They must be integrated on systems within the machines available to us," he said.

"It is a very complex system we are looking at and we cannot make any mistakes."

The Indian Army last week issued an RFI for over 1,700 Future Ready Combat Vehicles to replace the ageing Soviet-era T-72 tanks.

At the event, Lt. Gen. Shivane called it a "big ticket item" and a "game changer".

"The Futuristic Infantry Combat vehicle (FICV) and Future Ready Combat Vehicle (FRCV) programmes are going to be biggest game changers for the Indian defence industry ecosystem. Sometimes big ticket items take little more time but they do not fall. I am confident that very shortly you will hear the FICV going into the next level," he said.

He also rejected reports that the FRCV programme will "scuttle" the indigenous Arjun tank.

"Arjun-Mk1 as it matures and gets fully operationalised, we will consider Arjun-Mk2 provided it goes through integrated trials with all the upgrades," he said. - IANS