ARMY FOR NEW 30MM AMMUNITION FOR INFANTRY VEHICLES
In what could be one of the largest recent stock procurements of new generation ammunition, the Army has published fresh interest. As part of a drive to beef up its mechanised forces and infantry, the Indian Army is planning to undertake procurement of new generation ammunition to replace the existing ammunition being fired by 30mm cannon gun fitted on BMP-2/2K. The ammunition is required for all the BMP-2/2Ks held with Indian Army (approximately 2,900 vehicles). With a view to identify probable vendors who can manufacture the said ammunition in India, the OEMs/vendors have been requested to rapidly forward information on the product which they can offer. The ammunition is intended to be fired from the existing 30mm cannon gun (2A42) mounted on BMP-2/2K being employed in varied climatic and terrain conditions varying from extreme hot and dusty desert conditions to extremely cold high altitude regions. The Army specifically is concerned over whether new ammunition types will involve any increase in the overall weight of BMP-2/2K due to the ammunition being offered replacing the existing ammunition, types of ammunition being offered, i.e. AP, APFSDS, HE, Incendiary, Proximity, Plastic or Practice, etc. Unless absolutely necessary, the Army would like to totally avoid any changes in the existing sighting system on its BMPs.
STEALTHY PUSH FOR NON-STEALTH DRONES AT DRDO
January 11, 2016: With DRDO’s Rustom-II MALE UAV still to take to the air, work is currently gathering pace to provide the platform with greater low-observability features. “The main function of the landing gear is safe take-off and landing of UAV under various environmental and operational scenarios with the support of external pilot. A tricycle type retractable landing gear system with a steerable nose wheel consists of major subsystems, viz., Hydrogas Shock Absorber Strut, Hydraulic Actuation System with Sensors, Wheel & Brake and Nose Wheel Steering System and Mechanical Linkages. Interested development partners need to have expertise and wide experience in the area of high precision manufacturing of systems and components for aerospace application and operate full-fledged manufacturing facilities from medium precision to high precision to cater for manufacture of landing gear systems and components. In addition to this, firm must have experience to carry out assembly and limited testing. The DRDO has faced several delays in putting the more capable Rustom-II into the air despite assurances to the IAF and Army that demonstrations would take place in 2015. In all likelihood, the first flight of the Rustom-II will take place in mid-2016 from an airstrip near Bengaluru.
TERROR SPURT REVIVES INFANTRY MODERNISATION PUSH
The atmosphere of terror threats in the shadow of the Pathankot attack and continued threats along the LoC — including intermittent ceasefire violations — has heightened awareness of slow progress in infantry modernisation in the country. The Army’s Infantry Directorate has called for a meeting to speed up the erstwhile F-INSAS programme to provide infantry units with more integrated battlefield equipment. Tensions on the LoC have seen the use of hand-held thermal imagers and other equipment, but the Infantry Directorate of the view that far greater pace of modernisation is desirable towards a much more prepared soldier deployed in the forward areas. According to sources, apart from primary weapon and survivability modernisation, the Infantry Directorate is keen to shore up situational awareness and night-fighting equipment augmentation for soldiers, starting with those in Rashtriya Rifles and Special Forces units, and then to other regular infantry units. The coming weeks are likely to see a slew of fresh expressions of interest pertaining to the F-INSAS programme. The Pathankot attack has also drawn renewed focus on airborne thermal/night vision sensors, peripheral wall sensors and other electro-optical equipment of a newer generation to shorten the sensor-shooter loop at sensitive establishments on the terror radar.
NO MOVEMENT ON ARMY’S HAND-LAUNCHED UAS PUSH
A routine procurement is now an emergent situation for the Indian Army’s Northern Command, with zero movement over three years in the effort to procure up to 50 hand-launched tactical surveillance drones. The Indian Army has been looking for 49 man-portable hand launched unmanned air systems specifically designed for tactical surveillance in the border areas of Jammu & Kashmir. The Army’s Udhampur-based Northern Command had floated a tender specifying the need for a system that is capable of over-the-hill reconnaissance and imagery surveillance aimed at tracking movement of terrorists or infiltrators, incursions, human movements and to battlefield intelligence. The Indian Army currently operates a small fleet of Searcher Mk.2 drones of Israeli origin, but requires unmanned systems deployable at the platoon and company level for tactical unit-level operations. In 2009, the Indian Army got a taste of such systems at Babina during Exercise Yudh Abhyas with the US Army, when the Raven UAS was deployed. The Indian Army has also got a chance to see indigenous hand-launched platforms like the NAL SlyBird and ADE Imperial Eagle, both of which are still currently in development. With the halting of the Nishant drone programme, the Army is especially keen to test fresh tactical platforms of Indian origin and build.