The defence ministry has invited 10 companies to bid for a Rs 60,000-crore project to manufacture futuristic infantry combat vehicles (FICVs) in India.
Several major players like Tata, Mahindra, Larsen and Toubro, Pipavav, Bharat Forge and Punj Lloyd have been asked by the defence ministry to submit their bids on the Expression of Interest (EOI) in partnership with foreign companies. The FICVs are expected to replace the BMPs (armoured vehicles), which the army is using at the moment.
Defence ministry faced flak
The defence ministry had attracted criticism from the industry for delay in the project.
In March, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry had issued a press statement blaming the ministry for “inordinate delay” on the programme.
The FICV project was planned years ago in the ‘buy and make’ (Indian) category of the Defence Procurement Procedure 2011. At least 50 per cent of the product was to be indigenous to qualify for 80 per cent government funding at the development stage. Several agencies, including the Ordnance Factories Board, were asked to submit the EOI.
Subsequently, there was a change in the thinking. The defence ministry had carried out a study and found that the futuristic vehicle can be built in India by the Indian private sector companies, possibly in collaboration with a foreign partner. On Sunday, fresh reports emerged on the defence ministry's plan to issue a global tender to manufacture 90 medium multi-role fighter jets in India, in a new programme that will cost thousands of crores. But there was no independent verification of the report.
With the government settling for purchasing 36 Rafale fighter jets from France instead of 126 fighters that the Indian Air Force (IAF) needed, the IAF conveyed to the defence minister its need for more.