DGMF in sync with ever-changing battlefield scenario
In an interview with Lt General D.S. Siddhu, Director General, Mechanised Forces, Indian Army, who has wide experience in commanding armoured units and formations in all types of terrain in our border areas, spoke about the roles and modernisation status
SP’s M.A.I. (SP’s): What is the role of your Directorate with regard to the designing of future tanks and ICVs for the Armoured Corps and Mechanised Infantry? Director General Mechanised Forces (DGMF): The DGMF is the nodal agency for propagating the General Services Qualitative Requirement (GSQR) for designing tanks and ICVs. We endeavour to tailor the mechanised force and the equipment to remain current with the ever-changing futuristic battlefield scenario and achieve the desired operational capabilities. SP’s: In the context of the changed nature/character of war, have any new roles been defined for the Mechanised Forces? DGMF: To remain operationally relevant in the changing scenario, there is a need to constantly develop, evolve and adapt to the changing threat spectrum. With this as the focus, Mechanised Forces are developing capabilities to fight and decisively influence outcome of operations across the entire spectrum of conflict. In addition to our traditional role in conventional operations, we are concentrating on widening our employability to include operating in high altitude areas (HAA), counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism, out of area contingency situations and the United Nations (UN) mandated operations. SP’s: Has any thought been given to the indigenous development of the future main battle tank (FMBT)? DGMF: The FMBT will be an indigenous tank. The development model would be based on the guidelines of the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) and indigenous industry would be involved to the extent possible. SP’s: It seems that the T-90 will be our MBT for the next decade or so. How are we catering for the digitisation of the battlefield in the future? DGMF: As the mainstay of the armoured fleet, the T-90 Tank is slated to receive state-of-the-art upgrades to maintain its dominance on any future battlefield. These modernisation schemes include an active protection system, improved Commander’s thermal imaging sights providing true ‘hunter-killer’ capability, an advanced muzzle reference system for retention of zeroing both by day and night and necessary software upgrades to optimise the capabilities of the fire SP’s: Have we identified the light armoured vehicles for the reconnaissance troops and platoons in armour and mechanised units? What type of LAVs are we looking at? DGMF: The light armoured multipurpose (LAM) vehicles for the reconnaissance elements of the mechanised forces should be agile, adequately protected and have adequate firepower. Major requirements specified for the LAM vehicle are that it should have a maximum weight of eight tonnes, with a minimum payload of 1.5 tonnes. The LAM is a ‘Buy and Make (Indian)’ project. The request for information (RFI) for the LAM has been issued and responses received. A project appraisal committee has been appointed by the MoD which is in the process of finalising the list of vendors to whom the request for proposal (RFP) will be issued. SP’s: What is the status of the T-72 upgrade and modernisation programme? What is the focus currently and where have we reached? DGMF: Tank T-72 comprises the majority of our tank fleet today. These are of 1972 vintage and need to be modernised to enhance their mission reliability. With this in view, we are in the process of replacing the existing engine with a more powerful engine, incorporating an auxiliary power unit, fitting a thermal imaging fire control system for the gunner with suitable night enablement for the driver and commander also. Other upgrades include the digital control harness and modernisation of the fire suppression system. SP’s: What is being done with regard to survival of the tank in the future battlefield? DGMF: We are planning to enhance protection in terms of improved passive armour, reactive armour and incorporation of an active protection system (APS) in our tank fleet. In addition, protection measures for tanks/ICVs while fighting in built-up areas is also being developed in the form of tank urban survival kit and BMP urban survival kit.