Equip­ment Pro­file of In­dian Army

Con­sid­er­ing the lack of im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Eleventh Five Year Plan, the Army’s mod­erni­sa­tion plans, both Eleventh and Twelfth Five Year Plans put to­gether, may cre­ate a $25-$35 bil­lion (ap­prox­i­mately ` 1,25,000 to ` 1,75,000 crore) op­por­tu­nity. It seem


WITH ITS EX­PE­RI­ENCE AND ex­per­tise in fight­ing in al­most all types of ter­rain in­clud­ing the Thar Desert in the south-west, the plains of Pun­jab in the West, the moun­tains and high-al­ti­tude ar­eas of Kash­mir and Ladakh in the North and Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh in the North­east, and the jun­gle and river­ine ter­rain op­po­site Myan­mar and Bangladesh, in bat­tle­fields be­yond its shores in Sri Lanka, and peace-keep­ing and sta­bil­i­sa­tion op­er­a­tions glob­ally, the In­dian Army ranks tall amongst armies across the world in terms of pro­fes­sion­al­ism.

Cur­rently, a sub­stan­tial part of the In­dian Army is in­volved in fight­ing in­sur- gen­cies in Jammu and Kash­mir and the North-east­ern states. The Chi­nese in­fras­truc­tural ac­tiv­i­ties along the Indo-Ti­bet-Bhutan bor­ders and north Sikkim have trig­gered the ne­ces­sity for in­creas­ing the man­power ceil­ing of the Army. Thus it has been re­ported that a to­tal of four ad­di­tional di­vi­sions have been sanc­tioned for the East­ern the­atre out of which two have al­ready been raised. The re­main­ing two di­vi­sions will be for a part of the Strike Corps pro­posed to be raised for of­fen­sive op­er­a­tions in the East­ern the­atre.

Army’s Equip­ment Pro­file

Eleventh and Twelfth Five Year Plans

In­dian Army’s 600 odd mod­erni­sa­tion schemes amount­ing to more than 70,000 crore in the Eleventh Five Year Plan (200712) alone con­tinue to be en­cum­bered with elab­o­rate bu­reau­cratic pro­cure­ment pro­cesses. It is in this con­text that we should view the let­ter writ­ten by Gen­eral V.K. Singh, the former Chief of Army Staff (COAS), to the Prime Min­is­ter. It high­lighted the lack of some types of am­mu­ni­tion crit­i­cal for the Army and ob­so­les­cence of weapons and equip­ment and the stag­na­tion in the process of mil­i­tary mod­erni­sa­tion aimed at win­ning the con­flicts of the 21st cen­tury. More­over, the gap be­tween the In­dian Army and the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army (PLA) of China is ap­par­ently wi­den­ing day by day in favour of the lat­ter. Faced with a two-front chal­lenge, In­dia needs to ac­cel­er­ate con­sid­er­ably the pace of mod­erni­sa­tion of the Army.

The T-90, the im­proved T-72 M1 tanks and Ar­jun tanks will con­sti­tute In­dia’s ar­mour might in the fu­ture till a new MBT is cho­sen or de­signed in­dige­nously

The government it seems has now sanc­tioned the 12th Five Year De­fence Plan as a re­sult of the se­vere crit­i­cism over de­lays in the past. How­ever, con­sid­er­ing the lack of im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Eleventh Plan, the Army’s mod­erni­sa­tion plans, both Eleventh and Twelfth Plans, to­gether may cre­ate a $25-$35 bil­lion (ap­prox­i­mately ` 1,25,000 to ` 1,75,000 crore) op­por­tu­nity. It seems un­likely that over the next five years, this quantum of funds will be utilised. It does how­ever in­di­cate that the ac­cu­mu­lat­ing voids in our ca­pa­bil­i­ties in var­i­ous arms will ad­versely af­fect the Army’s fight­ing for­ma­tions in fu­ture wars. The main features of arm wise mod­erni­sa­tion and the steps be­ing taken in ac­qui­si­tion of equip­ment are as fol­lows:


The Army has al­ready equipped two reg­i­ments with Ar­jun tanks out of the 124 Ar­jun main bat­tle tanks (MBTs) or­dered by it ear­lier. An ad­di­tional 124 Ar­jun Mark II tanks have now been or­dered sub­ject to sat­is­fac­tory devel­op­ment of the Mark II ver­sion of the tanks for equip­ping two more reg­i­ments. Th­ese tanks will have sub­stan­tially up­graded ca­pa­bil­i­ties of fire­power, mo­bil­ity and pro­tec­tion. Th­ese are likely to be de­liv­ered by 2013. As re­gards the T-90 tanks, a to­tal of 647 T-90 tanks have been in­ducted into ser­vice.

The T-72 M1, Ajeya MBT, mod­erni­sa­tion pro­gramme un­der Project Rhino will ex­tend the ser­vice life of the MBT by 20 years; en­hance the ac­cu­racy with new fire con­trol sys­tem (FCS) whose tri­als are un­der way. This will give night-fight­ing ca­pa­bil­ity through a ther­mal im­ager in­te­grated with the tank‘s FCS. Three hun­dred T-72 tanks of the Army have been fit­ted with ther­mal imag­ing stand-alone sights (TISAS) while 300 more are in the pipe­line bring­ing the to­tal to 600 TISAS. Thus about 1,000 re­main­ing T-72 tanks will be fit­ted with more mod­ern in­te­grated fire con­trol sys­tems. How­ever, the over­all night-fight­ing ca­pa­bil­ity of In­dia’s ar­mour is cur­rently in­ad­e­quate and oper­a­tionally un­ac­cept­able. The tanks are ad­di­tion­ally be­ing equipped with new type of ex­plo­sive reac- tive ar­mour (ERA) pan­els which will pro­vide pro­tec­tion against ki­netic en­ergy as well as tan­dem war­head, chem­i­cal en­ergy pro­jec­tiles, for bet­ter pro­tec­tion, along with a laser warn­ing sys­tem and new ra­dio sets for bet­ter and more se­cure com­mu­ni­ca­tions. A new power pack is also un­der con­sid­er­a­tion to fur­ther en­hance mo­bil­ity. The mod­erni­sa­tion of the T-72 is way be­hind sched­ule due to com­pli­cated pro­cure­ment pro­ce­dures ex­ac­er­bated by de­layed de­ci­sion-mak­ing and in-house dis­agree­ments.

The T-90, the im­proved T-72 M1 tanks and Ar­jun tanks will con­sti­tute In­dia’s ar­mour might in the fu­ture till a new MBT is cho­sen or de­signed in­dige­nously. Mean­while, light tanks for the East­ern the­atre are also be­ing de­bated.

Mech­a­nised In­fantry

The mech­a­nised in­fantry is cur­rently equipped with the BMP-2 in­fantry com­bat ve­hi­cle (ICV), named Sarath. Over 1,000 of th­ese have been man­u­fac­tured since 1987. The vari­ants in­clude 81mm car­rier mor­tar tracked, a com­mand post, an am­bu­lance, ar­moured dozer and en­gi­neer and re­con­nais­sance ve­hi­cles. The ICVs are be­ing equipped with ther­mal imag­ing night sights and im­age in­ten­si­fiers. The ICV BMP-2/2K is be­ing mod­ernised by up­grad­ing its ex­ist­ing NBC sys­tem, fire de­tec­tion and sup­pres­sion sys­tem, ERA pan­els to pro­vide ex­tra pro­tec­tion and a new power pack. The scheme to fit en­vi­ron­men­tal con­trol for ICV BMP-2 is in an ad­vanced stage of pro­cure­ment. Ad­di­tional bat­tle­field sur­veil­lance radar (medium-range) mounted on high mo­bil­ity

wheeled ve­hi­cles are also be­ing pro­cured. In­dian Army has planned for a fu­tur­is­tic in­fantry com­bat ve­hi­cle (FICV) to re­place the BMP-2 with key op­er­a­tional and per­for­mance pa­ram­e­ters en­vis­aged in the In­dian con­text. The project is a pioneer in ‘MakeHigh-Tech’ cat­e­gory where for the first time the de­fence in­dus­try has in­vited par­tic­i­pa­tion by pri­vate es­tab­lished agen­cies.

Arty Fire­power

As part of its more than 20,000 crore Ar­tillery Mod­erni­sa­tion Plan, the Army is look­ing at in­duct­ing sev­eral types of how­itzers through in­ter-gov­ern­men­tal pacts and global ten­ders. The last ma­jor ac­qui­si­tion of towed gun-how­itzers was that of 400 pieces of 39-cal­i­bre 155mm FH-77B how­itzers with a range of 30 km from Bo­fors of Swe­den in 1987. Af­ter about 25 years of ne­glect, the Army still awaits the pro­cure­ment of about 1,500 how­itzers of 155mm, 52 cal­i­bre. Out of th­ese, 400 are to be pro­cured out­right and 1,100 man­u­fac­tured in­dige­nously with trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy (ToT). The re­quest for pro­posal (RFP) for th­ese guns was is­sued in the be­gin­ning of the year 2011 and it is ex­pected that the eval­u­a­tion process would have been com­pleted by now. Ad­di­tion­ally, 145 ul­tra-light how­itzers are be­ing pro­cured from the US through the for­eign mil­i­tary sales (FMS) route from BAE Sys­tems. This deal has been cleared by In­dia’s Cab­i­net Com­mit­tee on Se­cu­rity. The Army also needs 120 tracked and 180 wheeled 155mm how­itzers for its ar­moured and ar­tillery di­vi­sions re­spec­tively, for use in of­fen­sive op­er­a­tions, the fate of which is un­known.

In­dian Army’s 600 odd mod­erni­sa­tion schemes amount­ing to more than 70,000 crore in the Eleventh Plan (2007-12) alone con­tinue to be en­cum­bered with elab­o­rate bu­reau­cratic pro­cure­ment pro­cesses

It is now re­li­ably learnt that when the Bo­fors 155mm how­itzers were pro­cured in 1987, trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy had taken place and it has now been re­vealed that the Ord­nance Fac­tory Board (OFB), which had been sit­ting on th­ese de­signs for the past 25 years, have now ac­cepted to man­u­fac­ture pro­to­types of 155mm/ 39 cal­i­bre and 45 cal­i­bre guns for tri­als by the Army.


The Heron, a medium-al­ti­tude, long-en­durance UAV from Is­rael, has been ac­quired in ad­di­tion to the Searcher I and II UAVs. Four troops of Herons will be­come op­er­a­tional. Medium-range bat­tle­field sur­veil­lance radars (BFSRs) have been in­tro­duced into the in­ven­tory of the Army’s sur­veil­lance and tar­get ac­qui­si­tion (SATA) units for en­hanc­ing the medium-range ground sur­veil­lance ca­pa­bil­ity of the Army. The long-range ob­ser­va­tion sys­tem (LORROS) pro­vides day and night sur­veil­lance ca­pa­bil­ity up to a range of about 11-13 km.

Devel­op­ment of Nis­hant re­mote­lyp­i­loted ve­hi­cle, de­signed by the DRDO, to un­der­take bat­tle­field sur­veil­lance, re­con­nais­sance, real-time en­gage­ment of tar­gets by ar­tillery fire and laser des­ig­na­tion has been suc­cess­fully com­pleted. It has been ap­proved for in­duc­tion through lim­ited se­ries pro­duc­tion.

The Ar­tillery Com­bat Com­mand and Con­trol Sys­tem (ACCCS) have been suc­cess­fully devel­oped and have been de­ployed in a large num­ber of Corps.

Air De­fence Ar­tillery

The corps of Army Air De­fence has a large va­ri­ety of guns and mis­sile sys­tems. It has 40mm L/70, Zu-23-2 Twin gun, ZSU-23-4 Schilka, Tan­guska, Kvadrat (medi­um­range mis­sile sys­tem), OSA -AK (short­range mis­sile sys­tem) and Igla shoul­der fired mis­sile sys­tem in its in­ven­tory. The 40mm L/70 which is about four decades old needs im­me­di­ate re­place­ment. Con­sid­er­ing the high costs of new weapon sys­tems, the Army is go­ing in for weapon up­grades for L-70, ZU-23-2 Twin gun, and ZSU-23-4 Schilka. Mean­while, the Army is look­ing for suc­ces­sors to L-70 and the ZU-23-2. Suc­ces­sor to Schilka (ZSU-23-4) al­ready ex­ists in the form of Tan­gushka, but in lim­ited num­bers. A re­quest for in­for­ma­tion (RFI) has al­ready been is­sued to find a re­place­ment for Schilka.

For air de­fence of mech­a­nised units, it has been planned to ac­quire medi­um­range sur­face-to-air mis­sile (MR­SAM) and quick re­ac­tion SAM (QRSAM) sys­tems. RFP for QRSAM is be­ing is­sued and there is a joint devel­op­ment ven­ture of the De­fence Re­search and Devel­op­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion (DRDO) and Is­rael for MR­SAM for all the three ser­vices. Suc­ces­sor to Igla has been short­listed and will go for tri­als shortly. Short­listed sys­tems are SAAB RBS-7O, MBDA, Mis­tral, a Rus­sian SAM sys­tem and South Korea’s LIG Nex1.


The De­fence Ac­qui­si­tion Coun­cil (DAC) has ap­proved of a new as­sault ri­fle, 5.56mm cal­i­bre and a new gen­er­a­tion car­bine. The Army awaits a com­plete over­haul of its ba­sic weaponry for sol­diers. Seek­ing to arm its in­fantry sol­dier with a lethal and so­phis­ti­cated as­sault ri­fle, the Army has started the field tri­als for procur­ing more than 60,000 as­sault ri­fles in a deal worth 13,000 crore. The as­sault ri­fles which were un­der con­sid­er­a­tion as re­ported by the me­dia in­clude Beretta, IWI, SIG Sauer, Colt and Ceska Zbro­jovka. The Army wants its lat­est ri­fles to be equipped with de­tach­able un­der-bar­rel grenade launch­ers, nightvi­sion de­vices, laser des­ig­na­tors and so on. Sources said, “The tri­als have be­gun and con­sid­er­ing the re­quire­ments of the force, the guns will be tested in deserts, ex­treme cold weath­ers, high-al­ti­tude re­gions and so on. The Cen­tral Para­mil­i­tary Force and

state po­lice un­der­go­ing mod­erni­sa­tion pro­gramme would also be able to pro­cure the same. Ac­cord­ing to the In­dian Pro­cure­ment Pol­icy, the se­lected ven­dor will have to trans­fer the tech­nol­ogy to the state-owned Ord­nance Fac­tory Board, which will then man­u­fac­ture the guns un­der li­cence within the coun­try.

New bul­let proof jack­ets, bal­lis­tic hel­mets and boots anti-mine which were also to be pro­cured, have not ma­te­ri­alised so far. The in­fantry is also look­ing for a man­portable third-gen­er­a­tion anti-tank guided mis­sile un­der bar­relled grenade launch­ers, 60mm mor­tars, en­hanced-range 81mm mor­tars and ther­mal-imag­ing night sights for as­sault ri­fles. In­ci­dents like 26/11 have un­der­lined the need to equip all in­fantry bat­tal­ions suit­ably for rapid re­ac­tion. This is be­ing achieved by procur­ing spe­cialised items for the Ghatak Pla­toons (Com­mando Pla­toons) of In­fantry Bat­tal­ions. Mul­ti­mode grenades have been in­dented with the Ord­nance Fac­tory Board while am­mu­ni­tion of the Rocket Launcher Mark III is also to be pro­cured. The in­fantry is also be­ing pro­vided with multi-pur­pose ve­hi­cles (MPVs), light-bul­let proof ve­hi­cles (Lt BPVs), light-strike ve­hi­cles (LSVs) and ad­di­tional snow mo­biles.

Spe­cial Forces

Equip­ping of Spe­cial Forces (SF) is lag­ging woe­fully. “Pack­aged equip­ping” of sub­units has not taken off and crit­i­cal equip­ment like laser tar­get des­ig­na­tors is yet to be pro­vi­sioned. The Army’s em­pha­sis has been on ex­pan­sion, ig­nor­ing the uni­ver­sally ac­knowl­edged four Spe­cial Forces global truths: Hu­mans are more im­por­tant than hard­ware Qual­ity is bet­ter than quan­tity Spe­cial Forces can­not be mass pro­duced Com­pe­tent Spe­cial Forces can­not be cre­ated af­ter emer­gen­cies arise. It would be pru­dent to first con­sol­i­date the ex­ist­ing seven Spe­cial Forces bat­tal­ions and fully equip them be­fore adding more.


The fu­ture in­fantry sol­dier as a sys­tem (F-IN­SAS) has been ini­ti­ated to make the in­fantry­man a weapon plat­form with si­t­u­a­tional aware­ness, in­creased lethal­ity and sus­tain­abil­ity in the digi­tised bat­tle­field. F-IN­SAS is to be ef­fected in three phases: Phase-I in­cludes weapons, body ar­mour, cloth­ing and in­di­vid­ual equip­ment; PhaseII is the tar­get ac­qui­si­tion sys­tem and Phase-III com­prises the com­puter sub-sys­tem, ra­dio sub sys­tem, soft­ware and soft­ware in­te­gra­tion. F-IN­SAS will be a part of the bat­tle­field man­age­ment sys­tem (BMS) of the Army.

Engi­neers: Equip­ment has been pro­cured to as­sist in de-min­ing op­er­a­tions and to im­prove the engi­neers’ ca­pa­bil­ity for dis­as­ter man­age­ment. Pro­tec­tive equip­ment, to en­hance the fight­ing ca­pa­bil­ity of the Army in the nu­clear, bi­o­log­i­cal and chem­i­cal (NBC) sce­nario has been pro­cured. Pro­tec­tion against im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vices (IED) in counter-in­sur­gency and counter-ter­ror­ist op­er­a­tions is be­ing con­stantly en­hanced through pro­cure­ment of a so­phis­ti­cated range of counter IED equip­ment. The ca­pa­bil­ity is also be­ing strength­ened by re­plac­ing ex­ist­ing bridge sys­tems with state-of-the-art in­dige­nous bridges, which will en­hance tac­ti­cal mo­bil­ity of our field for­ma­tions. Pro­cure­ment of new earth-mov­ing plants and ma­te­rial han­dling cranes is also be­ing done to re­duce the fa­tigue fac­tor for troops.

Sig­nals: The Corps of Sig­nals has as­sim­i­lated all types of tech­nol­ogy from mo­bile cel­lu­lar, satel­lite, mi­crowave and fi­bre-op­tic com­mu­ni­ca­tion and are to­day on the verge of ush­er­ing in a next-gen­er­a­tion net­work, based on fu­tur­is­tic tech­nol­ogy. As far as ra­dio com­mu­ni­ca­tions are con­cerned, a num­ber of promis­ing tech­nolo­gies such as soft­ware de­fined ra­dio (SDR) and cog­ni­tive ra­dio (CR) are be­ing closely an­a­lysed for their ef­fec­tive mil­i­tary us­age.

In­for­ma­tion Sys­tems

The ob­jec­tive of the Di­rec­tor Gen­eral In­for­ma­tion Sys­tems is to vig­or­ously pur­sue the es­tab­lish­ment of the Com­mand In­for­ma­tion De­ci­sion Sup­port Sys­tem (CIDSS) for the Army to link to­gether all other au­to­mated com­mu­ni­ca­tion and in­for­ma­tion sys­tems such as the bat­tle­field sur­veil­lance sys­tem (BSS), the ar­tillery com­bat com­mand and con­trol sys­tem (ACCCS), the air de­fence con­trol and re­port­ing sys­tem (AD C&R) and the bat­tle man­age­ment sys­tem (BMS), in an ef­fort to present a holis­tic pic­ture to a com­man­der and his se­nior staff of­fi­cers to ease the de­ci­sion-mak­ing process. This will also link the com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tem at strate­gic, op­er­a­tional and tac­ti­cal lev­els and en­able the Army to fight “net­work-en­abled war­fare” in the fu­ture.

MBT Ar­jun MK-1 tank pass­ing through the Ra­j­path

T-90 bat­tle tank

BAE Sys­tems's M777 light­weight how­itzer

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