The Army has invited proposals from domestic and foreign firms to manufacture 'Future Ready Combat Vehicles' or FRCV tanks at a time when DRDO is already working on such a project to replace the Soviet-origin Main Battle Tanks (MBTs).
The Army has issued a Request for Information (RFI) inviting responses from companies by July 31 to manufacture tanks which will replace the T-72 tanks, official sources said. The RFI is open to both domestic and foreign firms.
According to the Army, the best design will be chosen and given to a nominated developing agency for production of the prototypes and the selected prototype will be given to production agency for bulk production.
The move is significant as the country's premier defence research agency DRDO is already working on a futuristic tank -- Future Main Battle Tank (FMBT).
The Army has earlier been at loggerheads with the DRDO over its Arjun tank.
Defence experts hold the view that if the Army goes in for a foreign tank, nearly 30 years of indigenous effort in developing the Arjun tank that can be used to make the next generation of tanks will go to waste.
Asked about Army's RFI, Director of DRDO's Combat Vehicles Research & Development Establishment (CVRDE), which is working on the FMBT, told PTI, "We have a long-term perspective plan from the Army. We are working on the technolgy development and will continue with it".
DRDO officials are stunned by the Army's RFI and are wondering why it was issued when it is already working on it.
They are hoping that the Ministry of Defence, which has been pushing for 'Make in India', will look into the issue.
A senior official noted, "DRDO has been doing well with the Air Force and the Navy but always hits a roadblock when it comes to the Army".
Meanwhile, Army sources maintained that the RFI is open to all and even the DRDO can take part.