Re­vis­it­ing In­dian Army’s Mod­erni­sa­tion Pro­grammes

The gov­ern­ment, it seems, has now sanc­tioned the Twelfth Five Year De­fence Plan as a re­sult of the se­vere crit­i­cism over de­lays in the past. How­ever, for the Army, it would be cos­metic pa­per ex­er­cise as even the Eleventh Plan pro­cure­ments have not ma­te­ria

SP's LandForces - - FRONT PAGE - Lt Gen­eral (Retd) V.K. Kapoor

The gov­ern­ment, it seems, has now sanc­tioned the Twelfth Five Year De­fence Plan as a re­sult of the se­vere crit­i­cism over de­lays in the past. How­ever, for the Army, it would be cos­metic pa­per ex­er­cise as even the Eleventh Plan pro­cure­ments have not ma­te­ri­alised.

IN­DIAN ARMY’S 600 ODD mod­erni­sa­tion schemes amount­ing to over R 70,000 crore in the Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-12) alone have not fruc­ti­fied. The re­vised De­fence Pro­cure­ment Pro­ce­dure (DPP) over the years has done lit­tle to ac­cel­er­ate the pace of mod­erni­sa­tion. A dis­pas­sion­ate anal­y­sis would in­di­cate that the voids in equip­ment and mu­ni­tions in the Army to fight a mod­ern war to­gether with the lack of mod­erni­sa­tion of equip­ment in vir­tu­ally all fight­ing arms of the Army, is cre­at­ing a ca­pa­bil­ity gap vis-à-vis our likely ad­ver­saries and this is be­com­ing more pro­nounced day by day. It is in this con­text that we should view the let­ter writ­ten by Gen­eral (Retd) V.K. Singh, the for­mer Chief of Army Staff (COAS), to the Prime Min­is­ter on March 12, 2012, which was de­lib­er­ately leaked to the me­dia. It high­lighted that the mis­sion re­li­a­bil­ity of mech­a­nised ve­hi­cles was poor, the ar­tillery was ob­so­lete and in­ad­e­quate, air de­fence was an­ti­quated, ar­mour was un­re­li­able due to reg­u­lar bar­rel ac­ci­dents caused by mis­match be­tween in­dige­nous bar­rels and am­mu­ni­tion, night­fight­ing de­vices were in­suf­fi­cient, avi­a­tion corps he­li­copters needed ur­gent re­place­ments; and hold­ings of all types of mis­siles, anti-tank and spe­cialised am­mu­ni­tion was crit­i­cally low. This is point­ing at lack of pre­pared­ness to fight and win wars on the bat­tle­fields of the 21st cen­tury.

Fol­low­ing this it seems that the De­fence Min­istry had asked Army Head­quar­ters to fast-track ac­qui­si­tions and the list of es­sen­tials was pre­pared and sent. How­ever, the sit­u­a­tion has not im­proved but in fact has wors­ened in the last one year. On the one hand, noth­ing has come so far, while on the other hand, mis­siles and spe­cialised am­mu­ni­tion hold­ings which have a shelf-life, have dipped fur­ther. The gov­ern­ment, it seems, has now sanc­tioned the Twelfth Five Year De­fence Plan as a re­sult of the se­vere crit­i­cism over de­lays in the past. How­ever, for the Army, it would be cos­metic pa­per ex­er­cise as even the Eleventh Plan pro­cure­ments have not ma­te­ri­alised. Thus con­sid­er­ing the lack of im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Eleventh Plan, the Army’s mod­erni­sa­tion plans, both Eleventh and Twelfth Plans, need to be im­ple­mented. The de­fence bud­get for 2013-14 grew by five per cent over the pre­vi­ous year, with de­fence cap­i­tal ac­qui­si­tions grow­ing by

Like the F-IN­SAS project, many other Army mod­erni­sa­tion pro­grammes are hardly pro­gress­ing, thus neg­a­tively af­fect­ing the op­er­a­tional pre­pared­ness of the Army

nine per cent. But with in­fla­tion av­er­ag­ing more than five per cent since Fe­bru­ary and the ru­pee de­pre­ci­at­ing by 14 per cent against the dol­lar over the same pe­riod, that mod­est nom­i­nal bud­get in­crease is ac­tu­ally a real bud­get de­crease for de­fence and con­sid­er­ing the aus­ter­ity mea­sures re­quired to be un­der­taken with a slow­ing econ­omy, the Army will have to pri­ori­tise its re­quire­ments. It does how­ever in­di­cate the ac­cu­mu­lat­ing voids in our ca­pa­bil­i­ties in var­i­ous arms which will ad­versely af­fect the Army’s fight­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties in fu­ture wars.

The no­table fea­tures of arm wise mod­erni­sa­tion and the steps been taken in ac­qui­si­tion of equip­ment are as fol­lows:


The Army had equipped two reg­i­ments with Ar­jun tanks out of the 124 Ar­jun main bat­tle tanks (MBT) or­dered by it ear­lier. As a re­sult of the sat­is­fac­tory feed­back by the units and from the tank crews, an ad­di­tional 124 Ar­jun Mark II tanks have been or­dered sub­ject to sat­is­fac­tory de­vel­op­ment of the up­graded Mark II ver­sion of the tank for equip­ping two more reg­i­ments. Th­ese tanks will have sub­stan­tially up­graded ca­pa­bil­i­ties of fire­power, mo­bil­ity and pro­tec­tion. The de­vel­op­ment of Ar­jun Mark I tank with 43 im­prove­ments has com­menced and lim­ited tech­ni­cal tri­als in­cor­po­rat­ing the im­prove­ments have been car­ried out in Ra­jasthan. The first batch of MBT Ar­jun Mark II is likely to go in for pro­duc­tion by 2014-15 at the Heavy Ve­hi­cles Fac­tory (HVF) in Avadi. As re­gards the T-90 tanks, 310 T-90S tanks had been or­dered from Rus­sia in the first in­stance. Of th­ese, 124 fully-as­sem­bled tanks were di­rectly im­ported from Rus­sia and 186 kits were im­ported for as­sem­bly in In­dia. The first in­dige­nously as­sem­bled T-90S rolled out from the HVF Avadi on Jan­uary 7, 2004. Th­ese tanks have now been fully op­er­a­tionalised. Ad­di­tional 347 T-90S tanks have been in­ducted into ser­vice which brings the to­tal to 657 T-90s tanks. As per re­ports, the Army has till now in­ducted around 780 of the 1,657 T-90S tanks it even­tu­ally wants.

The de­fects in the fire con­trol sys­tems of T-90S tanks due to ex­ces­sive heat in the tur­rets dur­ing the sum­mers is be­ing reme­died through air-con­di­tion­ing of the in­te­rior.

On Septem­ber 13, 2013, a ma­jor deal was cleared by the De­fence Ac­qui­si­tion Coun­cil (DAC) for the man­u­fac­tur­ing of 236 ad­di­tional T-90 tanks for the In­dian Army. The or­der, worth over R 6,000 crore ($940 mil­lion), will be ex­e­cuted by the Avadi HVF that al­ready has a li­cense from Rus­sia to man­u­fac­ture T-90 tanks from kits pur­chased from Rus­sia. Another con­tract, worth about $470 mil­lion, has been signed for the de­liv­er­ies of the In­var mis­siles, which will be in­stalled on Rus­sian-built T-90 tanks. This has to be com­pleted within the next five years. In­var is a laser-guided anti-tank mis­sile with a range of five kilo­me­tres and the ca­pa­bil­ity to pen­e­trate ex­plo­sive re­ac­tive ar­mour (ERA). Ac­cord­ing to lo­cal me­dia re­ports, In­dia plans to pur­chase 25,000 In­var mis­siles for its T-90 tanks, in­clud­ing 10,000 to be pro­cured di­rectly from Rus­sia and 15,000 more to be man­u­fac­tured do­mes­ti­cally un­der a Rus­sian li­cense.

The pro­gramme launched to mod­ernise the T-72 M1 Ajeya MBTs is still un­sat­is­fac­tory and has not pro­gressed much. About 1,700 T-72 M1s have been man­u­fac­tured un­der li­cence at HVF, Avadi. The T-72 M1 mod­erni­sa­tion pro­gramme un­der Project Rhino will ex­tend the ser­vice life of the MBT by 20 years; en­hance their 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 had been fit­ted with ther­mal imaging stand-alone sights (TISAS). Later 300 more TISAS were added bring­ing the to­tal to 600 TISAS. Thus the re­main­ing about 1,000 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 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 still be­ing de­bated.

Mech­a­nised In­fantry

The mech­a­nised in­fantry is cur­rently equipped with the BMP-2 in­fantry com­bat ve­hi­cle (ICV) named Sarath. The ICVs are be­ing equipped with ther­mal imaging night sights and im­age in­ten­si­fiers. The Army had or­dered 198 car­rier mor­tar tracked, which have since been de­liv­ered. 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 (medi­um­range) mounted on high mo­bil­ity wheeled ve­hi­cles are also be­ing pro­cured.

The 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. A project to build 2,600 FICVs cost­ing ap­prox­i­mately

R 60,000 crore has been ap­proved by the gov­ern­ment. This project is a pi­o­neer in ‘Make High-Tech’ cat­e­gory where for the first time the de­fence in­dus­try has in­vited par­tic­i­pa­tion by pri­vate es­tab­lished agen­cies. The project is in an ad­vanced stage for de­vel­op­ment of a pro­to­type.

Arty Fire­power

As part of its 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, which got em­broiled in con­tro­versy. This gun proved its met­tle in the Kargil con­flict. Af­ter about 25 years of ne­glect dur­ing which the 100mm and 122mm field guns of Rus­sian ori­gin and the in­dige­nously de­vel­oped and man­u­fac­tured 75/24 How­itzer joined the long list of ob­so­lete equip­ment, the Army still awaits the pro­cure­ment of about 1,580 How­itzers of 155mm 52 cal­i­bre. Out of th­ese, 400 are to be pro­cured out­right and 1,180 man­u­fac­tured in­dige­nously with trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy (ToT).

Tri­als of a mod­i­fied Nex­ter TRAJAN 155mm/52-cal­i­bre TGS and El­bit’s re­fur­bished lighter ATHOS 2052 how­itzer were to be held dur­ing May 2013 as a part of sum­mer tri­als in the western Ra­jasthan desert us­ing Ord­nance Fac­tory Board (OFB) man­u­fac­tured ord­nance. Th­ese tests will be fol­lowed by win­ter fir­ings and the se­lec­tion of one sys­tem by the Ar­tillery Direc­torate to pro­ceed to cost ne­go­ti­a­tions (the es­ti­mated bud­get be­ing $2 bil­lion). Th­ese tri­als con­sti­tute the fifth at­tempt to se­lect a suit­able 155mm how­itzer for the In­dian Army.

Nex­ter is now col­lab­o­rat­ing with In­dian pri­vate de­fence con­trac­tor Larsen and Toubro (L&T) while El­bit has part­nered with the Kalyani Group, the world’s largest forg­ings man­u­fac­turer head­quar­tered in Pune. The Kalyani Group, bet­ter known as Bharat Forge, af­ter one of its more suc­cess­ful sub­sidiaries has ac­quired RUAG’s en­tire ar­tillery man­u­fac­tur­ing unit in Switzer­land and has set it up in Pune in 2012.

The 145 ul­tra­light how­itzers (M777) 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 and tri­als have also been con­ducted but the deal has still not fruc­ti­fied. On Septem­ber 13, the De­fence Ac­qui­si­tion Coun­cil headed by the De­fence Min­is­ter cleared the deal four days be­fore the ar­rival of the US Deputy Sec­re­tary of De­fence, Ash­ton B. Carter.

The Army has in­ducted the Prithvi and the Agni se­ries of mis­siles, and the BrahMos mis­siles in their op­er­a­tional for­ma­tions. The Prithvi and the Agni se­ries of mis­siles are nu­clear ca­pa­ble mis­siles also ca­pa­ble of fir­ing con­ven­tional war­heads. Block III ver­sion of the BrahMos mis­sile with the Army is ca­pa­ble of tra­jec­tory ma­noeu­vres and steep dive with mul­ti­ple way points us­ing ad­vance guid­ance sys­tem and soft­ware.

Multi-bar­rel rocket launcher (MBRL) Pi­naka has a range of 37.5 km, can be brought into ac­tion within three min­utes and can fire a salvo of 12 rock­ets in 44 sec­onds. Pi­naka can neu­tralise a tar­get area of

As part of its Ar­tillery Mod­erni­sa­tion Plan, the Army is look­ing at in­duct­ing sev­eral types of how­itzers through in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal pacts and global ten­ders

1,000 m x 800 m. Pro­duc­tion of rock­ets is in full swing. Man­u­fac­ture of 40 launch­ers, 16 bat­tery com­mand posts, 40 L and 20 re­plen­ish­ment ve­hi­cles have been com­pleted and sys­tems have been handed over to the Army. Five lots of re­stricted high ex­plo­sive rock­ets and 23 lots of pre-formed frag­mented war­head rock­ets have been de­liv­ered to the Army.

Air De­fence Ar­tillery

The Corps of Army Air De­fence holds a large va­ri­ety of guns and mis­sile sys­tems. It has 40mm L/70, Zu-23-2 Twin gun, ZSU-23-4 Schilka, Tan­guska, Kvadrat (medium-range mis­sile sys­tem), OSA-AK (short-range 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-234) 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.

In the mis­sile sys­tems, Kvadrat (medi­um­range) and OSA-AK (short-range) are also at the end of their life cy­cle. They were to be re­placed by Akash and Tr­ishul sur­face-to-air (SAM) mis­siles. Tr­ishul has been fore­closed and Akash is be­ing in­ducted for semi-mo­bile roles. For air de­fence of mech­a­nised units, it has been planned to ac­quire medium-range SAM (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 De­velop- ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion (DRDO) and Is­rael for MRSAM for all the three ser­vices. Suc­ces­sor to Igla have been short­listed and tri­als have been held. How­ever, the re­sults have not been fi­nalised. Short­listed sys­tems in­clude SAAB RBS-7O, MBDA, Mis­tral, a Rus­sian SAM sys­tem and South Korea’s LIG Nex1.

A ma­jor weak­ness in the over­all air de­fence ma­trix is the lack of a bat­tle­field man­age­ment sys­tem which is also linked with the na­tional air de­fence net­work. The Bharat Elec­tron­ics Lim­ited (BEL) has now un­der­taken the de­vel­op­ment of such a sys­tem.


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; Phase II 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.

The De­fence Ac­qui­si­tion Coun­cil (DAC) had ap­proved of a new as­sault ri­fle, 5.56mm cal­i­bre and a new gen­er­a­tion car­bine to re­place the 9mm car­bine which had been weeded out of the Army with­out get­ting a re­place­ment. The progress in the field of car­bines is that in Au­gust 2012 the process of procur­ing 44,618 5.56mm close quar­ter bat­tle (CQB) car­bines to re­place the out­dated 9mm model and 33.6 mil­lion rounds of am­mu­ni­tion in a con­tract worth over R 2,000 crore was set in mo­tion. The man­u­fac­tur­ers in the race were Is­rael Weapon In­dus­tries (IWI) Galil Ace car­bine, Italy’s Baretta with its ARX-160 and United States’ Colt and Sig Sauer’s of­fer­ing the M4 and 516 Pa­trol mod­els. Th­ese weapons have un­der­gone field tri­als at the In­fantry School at Mhow, in Cen­tral In­dia, the Thar Desert in Ra­jasthan and high al­ti­tude lo­ca­tions in In­dia’s North­ern and North­east re­gion.

Army is also on the look­out for as­sault ri­fles (AR) to re­place the IN­SAS 5.56mm ri­fles with tech­no­log­i­cally su­pe­rior weapons and in the race are ARs of the Czech Repub­lic’s Czeca, IWI, Baretta and Colt and Sig Sauer, all weigh­ing around 3.6 kg. The other re­quire­ments in­clude the abil­ity to con­vert from 5.56 x 45mm to 7.62 x 39mm cal­i­bres by merely switch­ing the bar­rel and mag­a­zine for em­ploy­ment in coun­terin­sur­gency and/or con­ven­tional of­fen­sive/ de­fen­sive op­er­a­tions. They also need to be fit­ted with de­tach­able un­der bar­rel grenade launch­ers and be ca­pa­ble of fir­ing OFB-pro­duced 5.56mm x w45 (SS109) am­mu­ni­tion rounds. It will also in­volve trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy to the OFB to li­cence build the ARs. Army’s im­me­di­ate re­quire­ment is for around 2,18,320 ri­fles where as In­dia’s AR re­quire­ment is es­ti­mated at 2-3 mil­lion to arm the large Cen­tral Para­mil­i­tary Forces and the state po­lice. At this scale, In­dia’s AR ac­qui­si­tions could be one of the world’s largest small arms con­tracts in re­cent times worth over $5 bil­lion in due course.

Re­quest for pro­pos­als (RFPs) for some 1,70,000 mod­u­lar bul­let­proof vests weigh­ing around 10.5 kg and an equal num­ber of bal­lis­tic hel­mets have been placed with do­mes­tic man­u­fac­tur­ers in June and De­cem­ber 2012 re­spec­tively. Th­ese are also four years be­hind sched­ule. Ten­ders for knee and el­bow pro­tec­tion pads await fi­nal­i­sa­tion.

Like the F-IN­SAS project, many other Army mod­erni­sa­tion pro­grammes are hardly mak­ing any progress, thus neg­a­tively af­fect­ing the op­er­a­tional pre­pared­ness of the Army. It’s a mas­sive task and at the cur­rent rate of progress when not even Phase 1 has been com­pleted, it seems it will take ex­cep­tion­ally long to be com­pleted.


T-90 bat­tle tank


Pi­naka MBRL


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