The earlier F-INSAS was an Infantry modernisation programme. More precisely it was created to make our infantry face not just the modern warfare but also the future warfare which will be short, intense and more importantly information and network centric. To put it in short: the side with more situational awareness wins. Add to it more precise and advanced weapon system. It was launched in lines of the USA’s “Future Soldier or Future Combat Systems” and Russia’s “RATNIK”. Though motto of all programmes were the same. Both USA’s and India’s programme were cancelled or more precisely streamlined. Till now each of the country involved in such projects are still in designing phase or at the verge of cancellation due to cost over runs. Hence, as of now no country has actually fielded their FUTURE SOLDIER concept on the actual battlefield. In this answer i will be answering only about India.
- Current Scenarios
- Probable Fututre Scenarios
- Immidiate Solutions by Government
- The programme was started in 2005 with a deadline of 2020.
- Motto was to do complete make over of the long neglected Infantryman,
- Pictorially explained
- To convert this:
- To This(or something closer): This is actual motto if i actually consider the requirements without any compromise on any point.
- Later in 2015 the project was converted into two projects to keep costs at check and proper management:
- Infantry soldier modernisation
- Tactical Communication System(TCS)
- Battlefield Surviellance System(BSS)
- Battlefield Management System(BMS)
- Current CHALLENGES:
- Replacing the old weapon systems mainly the soviet based.
- Upgrading the not so old platforms to take up the challenge of future mainly in the western and north-eastern fronts.
- Better small arms, armor and health care .
- Future CHALLENGES: The “current challenges” part can be solved with imports but the future calls for strong indigenous efforts from public-private-academia-MSMEs and above all army itself through it’s Army Design Beurau. Strong R&D efforts have to be given by all the above mentioned otherwise we shall be trapped in never ending RFIs and Tenders and TOTs which are time consuming, prone to corruptions and delays. This includes following:
- Better small arms: Includes strong research on MEMS, Material science and Manufacturing.
- Optics and Sensors: Computer science, Electronics and AI.
- Armors: Material Science and Manufacturing. No not Kevlar but future of armor lies in nano-science and Composites.
- Battlefield Health management: Bio medical science. The health of the soldier should be monitored and emergecy survival equipments.
- Artificial Intelligence: Name is enough to explain it all.
- Nano technology: Obviously when you so many sensors , weapons and armor plus battle load hanging on your body every things need to be light enough to let the soldier carry evey other thing needed.
- Food related research: Long lasting food items. Portable Cooking and preserving equipments. Sounds funny and naive right? NO it is not. You can’t fight long enough without proper nutrition and water.
IMMEDIATE SOLUTIONS BY GOVERNMENT
- Procurement of new Battle Rifles instead of Assault rifles as standard weapons. RFI underway.
- Procurement of carbines. RFI underway.
- Procurement of sniper rifles. RFI underway.
- Procurement ofAnti Material Rifle. RFI underway.
- Procurement of Bulletproof jackets from TATA. Further funding another BPJ development programme on an innovation by Indian scientist Mr S.Bhowmick in collaboration of DRDO.
- Procurement of Bullet proof Helmets to replace older effective but heavy Patkas by MKU industries,Kanpur.
- RFI underway for optical sights for various weapons.
LONG TERM SOLUTIONS
- Formally only two entities has both including public and private has shown intention towards any R&D on complete Infantry makeover which includes:
- DRDO- Bharat Electronic Limited -Rolta India
- Tata Power (Strategic Engineering Division) and Larsen & Toubro
- Both are either individually creating their systems or collaborated on certain systems.
RECENT MAJOR ROADBLOCK
According defense journalist Mr. Ajai Shukla, Army and MoD are rethinking whether to continue with the Battle Field Management (BMS). According to them the programme is around 50000 Cr INR and is too “Expensive”. The BMS is supposed to develope the forces into a more network centric force where each and every soldier will have active knowledge of warzone including the people in warroom. Every person,platform and command involved in the war will have first hand knowledge of what’s going on in the battlefield.
BMS was the first major programme under the “Make” category of the “Make In India” campaign. Where two Indian companies/consortium will make a design, develope prototype, compete with each other to win the deal. The companies has spent crores for the first time on R&D of such a big ticket defense deals, suddenly cancelling such project will be a blow to their confidence on the MoD and probably next time they wouldn’t or cautiously take part in the deals, hence our indigenous developement of arms industry will suffer.
The major problem lies in standardisation. The architecture of TCS is not yet finalised and hence the BCS & BMS are suffering. The TCS that being used by soldiers uses radio links, the channels ,software and hardwares needed for the BMS and BCS too have to be similar to the TCS inorder to network all the three. So if the TCS is not finalised BMS & BCS will suffer delays too.
In this case, the MoD should intervene and get all involved parties from within the army and industry and should get all of them on the same page. Otherwise things may not turnout to be good at a time when both China and Pakistan are actively pursuing their future soldier programme.