After inordinate delays, the Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) may finally become a reality in the next 3-5 years in India according to Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) Chairman Hari Mohan.
The project which was conceived in 2009 was caught in the bureaucratic tangle and was scrapped in 2012 only to be resurrected in 2015 to be yet gain caught in procedural delays. However, the OFB and Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) have finally joined hands to develop the FICV.
Infantry Combat Vehicle (ICV) is used to transport infantry into the battlefield and is usually equipped with anti-tank missiles and heavy guns. The Indian Army wants the FICVs to replace its Russian origin BMP-2 ICV that is not equipped to fight at night, a huge lacuna that the army red-flagged when it became evident that the FICV was years away.
The FICV’s are being developed under the Government’s Make in India initiative. Tentatively named Mark I, the vehicle will help modernise Indian Army’s infantry frontier.
Features which were a part of drawing board stage will now be included in the FICV, said Mohan. He further added that DRDO and OFB were earlier working separately, but decided to join hands to develop the project.
Mohan further said that specifications and features of the project will keep advancing as it is an evolving project and the production will begin once the project reaches a satisfactory stage in tune with the feedback of the Army officials.
Mohan said Mark I will be ready in the next 3-5 years whereas the sequel Mark II may take up to a decade in its development. Most of the parts of the vehicle will be developed in India excluding some minor subsystems, Mohan informed.
The FICVs will boast of an auto-grenade launcher with a range of 1,500 metres, an anti-tank guided missile capability which can fire missiles within a range of 4000 metres with automatic command and a gun control system linked with a thermal imager fire control an OFB official said.
The Indian army wants the FICVs as soon as possible as they are critical in their strategy to fight both China and Pakistan who were significantly enhancing their border infrastructure. The armoured vehicles are to form part of armoured thrusts across the deserts and plains of the western front and into Pakistan, on the Himalayan frontiers and the Tibetan plateau against China.
The Army is said to be particularly concerned over China deploying light tanks along the nearly 4000 km border. Upbeat with an increase in defence exports in recent years, OFB has set a target of exports worth Rs 500 crore a year in the next two to three years. OFB exported products worth Rs 240 crore last year in comparison to Rs 15-20 crore the preceding years, the OFB chairman said.