The Indian Army wants to turn its soldiers into superheroes straight out of Hollywood.
It has embarked on Project F-INSAS (Future Infantry Soldier as a System) which visualises the Indian soldier as the ultimate terminator — one with unprecedented lethality, mobility and survival skills.
Project F-INSAS will exploit advanced technologies to enhance the capabilities of individual soldiers, making them "multi-mission, multi-role war fighters".
At the CII-organised Army-Industry Partnership Meet 2006 on Thursday, Army Chief General JJ Singh said the project offered tremendous scope for close cooperation between the CII, domestic industry, international players and the DRDO.
Brigadier V Manoharan, deputy director-general, Infantry Directorate, who is closely associated with the project, said: "The future Indian infantry soldier will be the Arnold Schwarzenegger-type. Only he will be more practical than the Hollywood hero."
The plan is to field by 2020, ‘supersoldiers’ who can "read the battle environment instantly and respond with speed, precision and lethality".
By 2012, the Army will field the first version of F-INSAS.
The supersoldier will be equipped to fight by day and night, in all conditions and terrain. Modular weapon systems that can be re-configured - allowing an assault rifle, for instance, to be turned into a light machine gun - will equip them to meet changing mission requirements. Integrated sight systems will have thermal imagers, invisible laser aim pointers and a red dot sight.
"Based on the lessons learnt from conflicts worldwide, F-INSAS intends to make the Indian soldier a self-contained fighting machine. By 2012, the Army will field the first version of F-INSAS, based on available technology," said Lieutenant General Devraj Singh, Director-General of the Directorate.
The supersoldier will sport some incredible accessories. Smart vests, for instance, will come with sensors to monitor vital signs like ECG, body temperature and heartbeat, and will allow pinpointing bullet injuries.
Sensors in the vest will provide online information to doctors about vital body signs. Combat helmets equipped with head-up display will provide a field of view equivalent to a 17-inch computer monitor right in front of the soldier's eyes.
Output from the soldier's personal computer - attached to his backpack frame - and other sensors will be shown on the display unit, which will be the interface with the other subsystems and the digital battlefield.
A futuristic radio subsystem will enable the soldier to transmit and receive voice messages and data, including streaming video. He will also get specially made boots to give some protection from landmines.
Among the global players being considered for supplying subsystems and components for F-INSAS are the Thales Group of France and Elbit Systems of Israel.
General Singh said, "Fast expanding technology has enabled armies the world over to modernise their forces and increase their combat potential while minimising casualties among their own troops."