Tata Motors has signed a strategic agreement with Bharat Forge Limited and US-based General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) for the Ministry of Defence's Future Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) programme.
The FICV is a proposed high-mobility armoured battle vehicle that needs to be compact, tracked and amphibious, and no heavier than 18-20 tonnes, so it can be air-portable and transportable on any terrain. Ministry of Defence regulations say the vehicle must fire anti-tank guided missiles, with ranges beyond 4 km, with a capability to carry a crew of three and eight combat-kitted military personnel. The FICV will replace the Indian Army's fleet of 2,610 units of Russian-designed BMP (Sarath BMP-II) series armed vehicles that are in operation since 1980.
Tata Motors will be in charge of design, development and integration of mobility platforms, while Bharat Forge will bring on board its fighting platforms and manufacturing strengths. General Dynamics' expertise, as a SOSI (system-of-systems integrator) in various integration programmes will bring in the required competency, a Tata Motors statement said.
Commenting on the partnership, Ravi Pisharody, executive director of commercial vehicles at Tata Motors Ltd, said: "Defence particularly needs partners with long-term commitments to see products and solutions through multiple generations of evolution, and we at Tata Motors are proud to have joined hands with Bharat Forge and General Dynamics Land Systems, for a complete FICV solution for the Indian armed forces. Through this partnership we will be better positioned to help the country realize its 'Make in India' vision, for the first completely indigenised combat vehicle, at the same time cater to the opportunities available right here in India."
In July 2015, the Ministry of Defence had sought expressions of interest from manufacturers for building the FICV. Besides Tata Motors, 10 other companies, including L&T, Tata Power (SED), Mahindra & Mahindra, Bharat Forge, Pipavav Defence, Rolta India, Punj Lloyd, Titagarh Wagons, and the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), had shown interest in the Rs 60,000 crore project, reported the Indian Express.
Tata Motors is not new to manufacturing defence vehicles. It has developed an amphibious platform for a futuristic combat vehicle call the ICV Krestel in association with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The ICV Krestel is now offered by the DRDO to the mechanised forces of the Indian Army, for user-assisted technical trials.