By N. C. Bipindra
New Delhi: Gearing up for future threat from China and Pakistan, two belligerent adversaries in the neighbourhood, India seeks expression of interest from local industry to develop armament upgrade packages for 811 Russian-origin infantry combat vehicles in service with the army.
The move comes amidst a military face-off with China in the Ladakh sector and seems to be inspired by the current conflict, but is clearly not intended to meet the clear and present danger posed by the People’s Liberation Army, as the plan is to get the prototype developed only in about two years’ time.
In an Expression of Interest (EOI) put out on Sep. 4, the Indian Army noted that “the terrain along the nation’s borders lends itself to conduct of large-scale mechanised operations and the belligerence of the country’s adversaries on the borders, necessitate that our capabilities are adequately built up to match the threat.”
It said, “the battlefield illumination does not limit itself to specific ammunition but also to have inherent Night Fighting capability existing in each weapon system.
The present equipment of Mechanised Infantry, that is BMP-2/2K, was inducted into service in 1985 and has been the mainstay equipment of Mechanised Infantry since then.
The armament system is Night Blind as on date and needs to be upgraded with modern sights thereby fulfilling the critical operational void.”
The objective of the EOI is to seek responses from eligible Indian Vendors for development of prototype and further procurement of the Armament Upgrade for BMP-2/2K.
The project will be processed under the industry-funded ‘Make-II‘ category of Defence Procurement Procedure of 2016 (DPP-2016), in accordance with Para 6 of Chapter-IIIA.
During the procurement phase, the Indian Army seeks to purchase the armament upgrade package under the ‘Buy (Indian-IDDM)‘ with a minimum 40 per cent indigenous content in accordance with Para 5 of Chapter III-A of DPP-2016.
The shortlisted development agency (vendor) would have to provide one prototype of the Armament Upgrade for the BMP-2/2K and the package would include:
(i) Third Generation Thermal Imager based Gunner Sight.
(ii) Third Generation Thermal Imager based Commander Sight (Panoramic).
(iii) Modernised Fire Control System.
(iv) Automatic Target Tracker.
(v) Existing performance parameters of the Armament to be retained.
At the Procurement Phase, the Armament Upgrade for the 811 BMP-2/2K (including ESP and fitment) will be procured after the successful finalisation of contract and it will include all the listed parameters as mentioned above.
The present armament sighting system in use is based on Image Intensifier Technology, which has its limitations and is not fit for modern day warfare. The present system is also deficient of modernised Fire Control System and Automatic Target Tracker, which adversely affects the capability of BMP-2/2K to fight both during the day and at night.
“All these aspects are critical requirements for Mechanised Infantry to operate in armour intensive battlefield. The capability being sought is to offset the existing deficiency in the BMP-2/2K platform and thereby bringing it at par with other modern war fighting equipment of Indian Army.”
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It is like ‘better late than never’.