Friday, October 2, 2009

Indian Army To Buy Specialized Weaponry

India has initiated a fast-track programme for the procurement of of $300 million worth of weaponry and equipment for the elite special forces. Under the program, around 10,000 elite troops will be provided weaponry and equipment in the next 15 months which will be bought from the global market.


Indian Defence Ministry officials said that India’s Defence Acquisition Agency (DAC), the highest weapons acquisition agency has recently cleared the $300 million fast-track modernization program for the infantry. The global bids for this specialized weaponry will be floated in a couple of months.


Indian Army sources said that the 10,000 elite troops will be trained with the advanced weapons and equipment with the help of Israel. The intensive training will be held at an Infantry Training School, in the state of Madhya Pradesh.


The weapons and equipment to be procured under the program will include Helmut Mounted Display systems, anti tank rifles, anti mine boots, software embedded communication systems, Global Positioning System (GPS), thermal imaging sights, precision guided ammunition, protective clothing and other equipment. The Helmut subsystem would be light and will also house the microphone unit for the radio and Head Up Display and a Nuclear Biological and Chemical (NBC) gas mask. The soldier’s personal computer would be attachable. The radio sub system would enable soldiers to transmit and receive complex voice and data signals.


The Indian Army had already envisaged a multi-billion dollar modernization programme for the infantry soldier called the F-INSAS (Futuristic Infantry Soldier as a System) in 2006. The objective of the programme is to enhance the capabilities of infantry soldier in terms of lethality, mobility, survivability, sustainability, situational awareness and battle command and make him a multi-mission war fighter.


Under the F-INSAS program the Indian Army plans to buy new Anti-tank Guided Missiles (ATGM) launchers, bullet proof vehicles, anti-material rifles, new generation carbines battle surveillance radars, Thermal Imaging Sights for ATGM launchers, ground sensors, secured communication systems, precision guided ammunition, laser rangefinder to provide the soldier with range and direction information and light clothing and bullet proof jackets. The Indian Army would commence trials for the F-INSAS prototype from 2011 and aims to equip its entire infantry troops comprising 500,000 by 2020.


The F-INSAS programme was jointly conceived by the Indian Army and the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO). However, the Indian Army has virtually rejected the involvement of DRDO in the F-INSAS project estimated to be over $3 billion. The Army has termed the 25-kilogram weight of the entire personal system for the soldier as too heavy. This includes his uniform, the boots, handheld GPS system, night vision equipment, helmet, personal weapon, etc.


The prototypes and concepts were conceived by the DRDO and were deemed unfit by the Indian Army. Most of the weaponry will now be sourced internationally.


While the procurement for the F-INSAS programme is yet to begin, the Indian Army is relieved that some of the hi- tech weaponry is coming their way through the latest fast-track acquisitions.

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