With Ta­tra deals on hold, BEML revving up on other army projects

SP's MAI - - SP’S EXCLUSIVES -

It has been a tur­bu­lent year for the de­fence PSU Bharat Earth Movers Ltd (BEML), with its Ta­tra truck line com­ing un­der the spot­light of al­le­ga­tions, and an on­go­ing CBI probe into the en­tire pro­gramme. Hav­ing risked its re­la­tion­ship with one of its largest cus­tomers, the In­dian Army, the com­pany has now lined up a raft of pro­grammes it is in­ter­ested in par­tic­i­pat­ing in as a de­vel­oper and sup­plier. Many of these pro­grammes are crit­i­cal to con­tin­ued mod­erni­sa­tion of the Army’s in­fantry units. The re­quire­ments run into thou­sands of spe­cial­ity ve­hi­cles for the Army’s in­fantry and spe­cial forces units. BEML has in­vited global ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est to cater to Army re­quire­ments for 3,500 light bul­let proof ve­hi­cles (LBPV), 2,500 in­fantry mo­bil­ity ve­hi­cles, an un­spec­i­fied num­ber of light ar­moured mul­ti­pur­pose ve­hi­cles, 500-600 light spe­cial­ity strike spe­cial­ist ve­hi­cles and 228 light strike ve­hi­cles – a to­tal of over 7,000 ve­hi­cles at the very least. BEML will be look­ing to ac­quire tech­nol­ogy through a part­ner and build the ve­hi­cles at ded­i­cated lines in coun­try for the Army. The state-owned firm will, of course, com­pete against pri­vate com­peti­tors like Tata, Mahin­dra and oth­ers. BEML re­quires in­ter­ested ven­dors or part­ners to ex­press in­ter­est for­mally by Oc­to­ber 9.

The Army has out­lined a re­quire­ment of 500-600 light spe­cial­ist ve­hi­cles – ba­si­cally ag­ile in­fantry ve­hi­cles with pro­tec­tion against small arms fire. The Army is look­ing for a ve­hi­cle with a min­i­mum pay­load of 1,000 kg, and an un­laden weight that can­not ex­ceed 3,750 kg. The ve­hi­cle must have ground clear­ance not less than 250mm fully laden, and pow­ered by a turbo-charged diesel engine with a min­i­mum oper­at­ing life of 1,00,000 km. BEML is look­ing for ven­dors who can field plat­forms with power to weight ra­tio not less than 25 kW/tonne fully laden with the air-con­di­tioner on, sand and off-road tyres, self-seal­ing fuel tank with fire sup­pres­sion fea­tures, stowage for 18 belt boxes of 7.62mm belted am­mu­ni­tion or six ad­vanced ri­fle grade mu­ni­tions (ARGMs). The ve­hi­cle also needs to be able to store at least 120 litres of wa­ter in two tanks. The Army also in­sists on power steer­ing, au­to­matic 4x4 trans­mis­sion with an in­ter­nal shift mode to 4x2 mode four for­ward gears and one re­verse. As with most spe­cial­ity ve­hi­cles, the Army re­quires in­de­pen­dent sus­pen­sion on all four wheels. The light spe­cial­ity ve­hi­cle will need to be ca­pa­ble of op­er­a­tions in am­bi­ent tem­per­a­tures rang­ing from freez­ing tem­per­a­tures to 40 de­grees Cel­sius. The Army wants to be able to push the ve­hi­cles to a max­i­mum speed of 100 kmph on level high­ways and 60 km/h in desert/off-road con­di­tions, with an ac­cel­er­a­tion of 0-60 km/h in 12 sec­onds. The ve­hi­cle needs to have a range of op­er­a­tion of min­i­mum 400 km for cross coun­try, and a grade­abil­ity of 30 de­grees fully laden. Ob­vi­ously, the Army has stip­u­lated pro­tec­tion – stanag 1 on all sides and bul­let-proof glass. Each light spe­cial­ist ve­hi­cle will need to carry five pas­sen­gers apart from the driver.

The largest re­quire­ment in the cur­rent list is for 3,500 LBPV. With a crew of 2+4 and a pay­load of 1,500 kg, the LBPV needs to have a kerb weight of not more than 7,500 kg. Oper­at­ing range of ve­hi­cle de­signs fielded will be sim­i­lar to the spe­cial­ist ve­hi­cles, at 400 km. The ve­hi­cle will need 6-kg un­der ve­hi­cle blast pro­tec­tion in ad­di­tion to bul­let-proof­ing on all sides. The Army would like space to trans­port six an­ti­tank guided mu­ni­tions (ATGMs). Trans­mis­sion needs to en­com­pass six for­ward gears and one re­verse.

An­other larger re­quire­ment is for 2,500 in­fantry mo­bil­ity ve­hi­cles, with a seat­ing ca­pac­ity of 1+5. This will be a ve­hi­cle of not more than 9,000 kg un­laden, and a pay­load of 1,800 kg (in­clud­ing 250 litres of drink­ing wa­ter). Sim­i­lar bul­let­proof­ing re­quire­ments ap­ply to the IMV as well — stanag 1 and bul­let-proof glass. Most other pa­ram­e­ters run sim­i­lar to the LBPV qual­i­ta­tive re­quire­ments.

The Army is also look­ing at an un­spec­i­fied num­ber of light ar­moured mul­ti­pur­pose ve­hi­cles (LAM). Pre-req­ui­sites on this ve­hi­cle in­clude mo­bil­ity, fire­power and pro­tec­tion for re­con­nais­sance mis­sions – the LAM need to be equipped with ob­ser­va­tion, sur­veil­lance and com­mu­ni­ca­tion equip­ment, and built with a mod­u­lar upgrad­able de­sign. Im­por­tantly, the LAM needs to have stretch po­ten­tial to in­cor­po­rate im­per­a­tive up­grades and re­tain func­tional su­pe­ri­or­ity, ac­cord­ing to BEML, which states in its in­vi­ta­tion to po­ten­tial part­ners, “The fu­ture bat­tle­field will be char­ac­terised by fast move­ments and en­gage­ments over all types of ter­rain with fluid and rapidly chang­ing sit­u­a­tions. Real time sur­veil­lance, in­te­grared C4I2 and pre­ci­sion weapon sys­tems will be the main­stay of forces in con­flict. Rapid de­ploy­ment forces trans­portable by sea and air. The LAM should al­low the mech­a­nised forces to op­er­ate in such a wide spec­trum of con­flict.” The LAM will be a six-tonne (plus pay­load of 1.5 tonnes) ve­hi­cle with a crew of four in­clud­ing the driver. Cru­cially, the LAM needs to be trans­portable by air, sea and rail with­out mod­i­fi­ca­tions. For op­er­a­tions, the ve­hi­cle needs to have a sen­sor mod­ule in­cor­po­rat­ing a re­tractable mast hold­ing a ther­mal im­ager and a day cam­era + GPS equip­ment. The Army wants the LAM to sport a weapon mount for one 12.7mm ma­chine gun with a 180 de­gree swivel with front pro­tec­tion for the gun­ner. BEML has iden­ti­fied crit­i­cal equip­ment on the LAM as: au­to­mo­tive sys­tems in­clud­ing engine, drive train and sus­pen­sion, pro­tec­tion – bet­ter me­tal­lurgy/ar­mour tech­nol­ogy to re­duce weight, sur­veil­lance – ther­mal im­ager-based ob­ser­va­tion equip­ment – re­tractable/tele­scopic mast and con­trols, elec­tron­ics sub-sys­tem man­age­ment, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, nav­i­ga­tion, ve­hi­cle di­ag­nos­tics etc and their in­te­gra­tion, de­sign – in-built growth/stretch po­ten­tial and up­grades.

Fi­nally, the Army is also look­ing to ac­quire at least 228 light strike ve­hi­cles (LSVs) for its Para (Spe­cial Forces) units, to “op­er­ate in hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment as an offensive weapon plat­form – in all ter­rains”. Con­fig­ured as a 1+5 crew ve­hi­cle, the LSV will be a 3,000-kg ve­hi­cle with a 950-kg pay­load. The LSV’s range of op­er­a­tions will be 600 km at a cruis­ing speed of not less than 110 km/h. A weapon mount in the co-driver’s seat for a 7.62mm gen­eral pur­pose ma­chine gun and a weapon mount for a MBDA-BDL MI­LAN anti-tank mis­sile must be in­cluded on the plat­form. The ve­hi­cle also needs to be ca­pa­ble of op­er­a­tions at high al­ti­tude with­out mod­i­fi­ca­tions.

StryKer ar­moured fight­ing ve­hi­cle

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