Tuesday, August 10, 2010

DRDO to Develop Indian Army's Next-Generation Tank

With most of our armour unfit to fight at night, the project is crucial. In March this year, during trials in the Rajasthan desert, the Defence R&D Organisation’s Arjun tank conclusively outperformed the Russian T-90, the army’s showpiece. Buoyed by that success and by the army’s consequent order for 124 additional Arjuns, the DRDO is now readying to develop India’s next-generation tank, currently termed the Future Main Battle Tank (FMBT). While costs are still being evaluated, the projections are mind-boggling. The development cost alone could be Rs 5,000 crore. Then, the replacement cost of the Indian Army’s 4,000 tanks — at a conservative Rs 25 crore per FMBT — adds to Rs 1,00,000 crore.

The bulk of this would flow, over years of production, to Tier-I and Tier-II suppliers from small and medium industries. For the first time, the DRDO has outlined the FMBT project’s contours. Talking exclusively to Business Standard, DRDO chief and Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister, V K Saraswat, revealed, “While the Future Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) has been handed over to private industry, the DRDO will develop the FMBT. We need about seven-eight years from the time the project is formally sanctioned. The army and the DRDO have already identified the major features of the FMBT, which are quite different from the Arjun. While the Arjun is a 60-tonne tank, the FMBT will be lighter… about 50 tonnes. It will be a highly mobile tank.” Vital project The FMBT project, says the military, is crucial for India’s future battle readiness.

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