Russia offers to build a new Main Battle Tank based on the Armata platform under the Indian Army FRCV project

Russia has offered to create a new Main Battle Tank for the Indian Army based on the universal Russian Armata platform, said Valeria Reshetnikova, the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation press secretary.

“In the course of the recently held Russian-Indian intergovernmental commission on military and military-technical cooperation and the Russian-Indian summit, Indian partners were offered new areas of work, including the creation of armoured tanks and vehicles based on the Armata platform, according to the technical specifications of the customer, given that the Indian military is planning to launch work on the creation of a new main battle tank, “Reshetnikova said.

Main battle tank is a term used for a multipurpose tank that combines high firepower, protection and mobility.

Armata Platform

Armata is a heavy tracked unified platform developed by the Uralvagonzavod concern. Based on the platform, MBT T-14 (main battle tank), an infantry fighting vehicle, self-propelled guns, and many other armoured vehicles have been created in Russia.

“Armata” is the first platform in the world that implements “network-centric warfare” in its design concept. 

Indian Army FRCV project

In 2017, the Indian Army had decided to officially start a tender for a new promising main tank, Future Ready Combat Vehicle (FRCV), in the near future to replace its current fleet of T-72 tanks.

According to the preliminary requirements for the FRCV program, promulgated by the Indian Army in June 2015, the deliveries of new tanks under the program are expected to begin in 2025-2027. The new heavy combat platform, on which a new tank is to be made, should have a modular concept. 

The Tank itself is envisaged as “medium weight” with a 45-50 tons combat weight, specially optimized for operations in semi-desert, desert, and mountainous areas. 

T-72 Ajeya Tank to be replaced by Indian Army FCRV project
T-72 Ajeya Tank

The FRCV program puts an end to the initial Future Main Battle Tank (FMBT) project.  

After a failed first attempt, the Indian Army has floated a second tender for the FRCV project. Indian Army announced that the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) would become a technology partner in implementing the FRCV program. A competition is currently underway to identify tank designers, design bureaus, and agencies implementing this program. 

The FRCV program provides for the creation of at least ten different types of armoured vehicles, infantry fighting vehicles and engineering vehicles. The new Tank created under the new FMBT program should replace the T-72 tanks of the Indian Army. The main requirement is that the military and auxiliary equipment designed under these programs must be the intellectual property of the Indian government. The winner of the competition must bring it to the stage of mass production. 

The general requirements for FMBT are as follows. Weight – 50 ton, Power of the power plant – 1800 h.p. Transmission – CVRDE development, Armor – active (APS – Armor Active Protection System), Cannon – 120 mm smoothbore and Suspension – hydropneumatic. 

The FMBT will be equipped with a new 120mm smoothbore cannon (India will first develop a gun of this calibre). There is the confidence that the development of this gun will go “smoothly” as DRDO developed its own 125mm gun for licensed T-90 tanks after Russia illegally blocked technology transfer. DRDO worked in conjunction with the Israeli company IMI (Israel Military Industries), which has developed a smoothbore gun for the Merkava tank.

The requirements for the FCRV program imply the presence of an artificial intelligence fire control system and a high level of general automation of machinery. The crew has to be reduced to 2-3 people with the use of an automatic loader. The Tank should have minimal visibility in the IR spectrum. The augmented reality technology will allow the crew to “see through the armour.” 

Particular emphasis is placed on driving performance: the desired FCRV power-to-weight ratio of 30 hp.

There is a requirement is countering UAVs with non-kinetic means of destruction.

The downside is that not a single modern tank, including the T-14 Armata, meets the Indian requirements.

In June 2021, 12 OEMs received the new Request for Information to supply 1,700 FRCV’s. The list includes France – Nexter; Russia – Uralvagonzavod marketed by Rosoboronexport (ROE); South Korea -Hyundai Rotem; USA General Dynamics; Germany KMW and Rheinmetall; Ukraine Malyshev Plant marketed by Spectstechno Expo; Italy – Ariete Consortium Iveco and Oto Melara (Leonardo); Serbia – Yugoimport; Israel – Israel Ordnance Corps; UK -BAE; Turkey – Altay Otokar; and India- DRDO.

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