Amid heightened tensions between India and Pakistan, the Indian Army is looking for close to 200 armoured fighting vehicles for deployment in different sectors in the frontier with Pakistan.
The army recently announced its plan to procure 198 wheeled armoured fighting vehicles (AFV) for reconnaissance and support to tank regiments in mechanised warfare. The vehicles are meant for replacing the army’s ageing Soviet origin BRDM combat reconnaissance patrol vehicles. The requirement came out in a Request for Information issued for procuring these equipment.
The army plans to use these AFVs in the plain sectors of Punjab and Rajasthan. It wants that these AFVs should be able to operate in not only developed areas in this region, but in riverine terrain as well. “The wheeled AFV should be provided with high mobility, adequate armour protection and armament configuration, suitable to destroy enemy tanks and undertake local protection,” the army has said.
The army is searching for AFVs that have a service life of 32 years and which can operate in temperatures reaching upto 45 degrees Celsius and as low as 0 degrees. It has also made it clear that the AFV should have a payload of at least 2 tons, which should include ammunition and four crew members. Importantly, the AFV should be transportable by IL-76 and C-17 transport aircraft and by railway, which will allow the army to quickly mobilise this specialised fleet in the regions that it wants during a contingency.
While the army has a requirement of AFVs that can go upto speeds of about 80 km per hour on roads and cross country, the need is also being felt for its amphibious use in water. It also wants the AFV to have two twin long range Anti-Tank Guided Missiles with the ‘fire and forget capability’ and a hit probability of more than 90 percent and a maximum range of 4 km. It also needs a man portable ATGM launcher. This will allow troops who dismount from the AFV to fire the same missile that is meant for the launcher on the vehicle.
The army has pointed out that the main gun of the AFV should be a 30mm cannon with a 7.62mm machine gun with internal storage facility for the two weapons. It also needs AFV for protection from Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) contamination. The AFV will also have its own protection system from ATGM and rocket propelled grenades.
The army has invited responses to its request from Indian vendors who have tie ups with foreign original equipment manufacturers. The army plans to procure this through the Buy Indian (IDDM- Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured).
AFVs ensure greater mobility during operations and in out pacing an adversary. It also becomes important during ‘mopping up operations’ to destroy the last remnants of an enemy and in setting up defences to repel a counter attack. The AFVs that the army is looking for will ensure greater reconnaissance of enemy positions and in providing flank cover. The requirement gains importance in the backdrop of the Balakot air strikes and the subsequent aerial dogfight with Pakistani jets in Jammu and Kashmir.