The Indian Army’s next main battle tank, the tank for the 2020s, till the middle of this century is the FRCV OR Future Ready Combat Vehicle.
This is artist’s impression of the tank, as per the Indian Army’s armoured corps.
Currently, the Indian Army has the T-90 tank and the indigenous Arjun, a heavier tank of over 60 tonnes but the first steps towards a new tank have been taken with the Defence Ministry issuing a Request for Information last week.
The Army has decided on the specifications. The FRCV is expected to be 50 tonnes, “plus or minus 15 percent,” top Army sources said. This is to ensure that it can be used in different parts of the country, including Punjab, where the bridges rarely allow a heavier tank. Even across the border in Pakistan, where the tanks are being built to be used if there is war with Pakistan, the bridges on the canals cannot allow heavier tanks. As a result, the only place where tanks that weigh 60 tonnes and more can be used is in the Jaisalmer sector, in the open desert. The FRCV will be designed after discussions with a foreign collaborator and tanks of four different countries are being looked at. They are:
* The Russian T-14 Armata
* The Ukranian Uplot
*The French LeClerc and the
* South Korean K2 Black Panther
The Army expects that it will partner one of the four countries to produce the FRCV in the next decade. All four are in the 50 tonnes vicinity.
A special attempt has been made to keep the weight of the tank to around 50 tonnes and this keeps out several top-of-the-line tanks like the German Leopard and the American M1 Abrams, both of which touch 60 tonnes. The Israeli armoured vehicles are also considered too heavy.
The second stage will the production of the FRCLV. This will be a variant of the FRCV and will weigh about 30 tonnes. This can be used in the Ladakh area and even in Sikkim (the Chinese have already built a formidable light tank), parts of Gujarat like Bhuj, the Andamans and outside the country, if necessary.
The Army’s current weight requirement for tanks puts the indigenous Arjun at a disadvantage. Two regiments of 125 tanks are already with the Indian Army and two more asked for, provided the spares situation is better. Again, the Arjun is heavy, at 62 tonnes and the Arjun II could be 68 tonnes. The spares problem arises from the fact that the tank is only one-third indigenous. The engine, for example, is German and the gearbox, French. The high cost–about Rs 44 crores–is also a problem. As a result, the Arjun’s use will be limited to the open Rajasthan desert.