Indian Army to buy infantry combat vehicles worth billions for fast attack in enemy terrain

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NEW DELHI - Seeking to bolster its armoured capabilities during wars, the Indian Army is moving a proposal expected to be worth over Rs 2,200 crore for buying 150 infantry combat vehicles, which provide safety to troops from small arms firing in the battlefield.

"A proposal to acquire 150 infantry combat vehicles expected to be worth over Rs 2,200 crore is going to be placed before a high-level meeting of the defence ministry headed by Nirmala Sitharaman next week for approval," government sources told Mail Today.

Army sources said the new *combat* vehicles would be acquired for use by the arms and services which support the infantry and other combat arms in the war such as the Corps of Signals, Artillery, Combat Engineers and others.

"These arms are supposed to move in into the enemy territory along with the tank regiments and infantry troops at a rapid pace in case of a war in the desert terrain," they said.

The artillery officers use the combat vehicles as observation posts for directing the fire of their howitzer on the enemy locations while the signals officers use them for establishing line of communications.

To increase the pace of military modernisation, the defence ministry link under Sitharaman has increased the number of defence acquisition council meetings to remove the cobwebs around the files and clear the cases for acquisition.

In February itself, Sitharaman would be holding three such meetings to push important cases of the Indian Army to clear the procurement of light machine guns, close quarter carbines and other important equipment for the force.

The entire ICV fleet of the Indian Army is acquired from the Russians, including the BMP-1 and the BMP-2, which have been acquired in different batches at regular intervals by the force.

The ICVs are mainly used by the mechanised infantry regiment (MIR) which has 27 battalions under it deployed mainly along the desert and plains border with Pakistan.

The strength of the army's mechanised infantry battalions was recently increased by four battalions, with the brigade of the guards raising three new units and one for the MIR.

The Indian Army is also looking at the prospect of acquiring a new futuristic infantry combat vehicle, which it wants to be given to its mechanised formations to tackle the challenges and situations of the modern-day warfare.

In the project to procure 2,300 futuristic infantry combat vehicles (FICV) for the Indian Army , which has been held up for over a decade, apart from the state-owned Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), which has been nominated for the project, L&T, Tata Motors, Reliance, Mahindra, and Tata Power SED-Titagarh Wagons are also in the race.

New Delhi