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3 yrs on, bids for digital system in Army yet to see light of day

But on the other hand, its own Master General Ordnance (MGO) is sitting on bids for a contract they issued for Battlefield Management Systems, close to three years ago.

They had issued expression of interest for a research and development of the project worth $ 67 million, for which the government was to bear 80 per cent of the cost and 20 per cent by the chosen vendor. After validation of the prototype, the total size of the system was estimated to be close to $ 5 billion for 500 such systems.

The Expression of Interest (EOI) was sent by the army to both defence public sector units (DPSUs) and leading private defence contractors. The DPSUs included Bharat Electronics, Electronics Corporation of India, Computer Maintenance Corporation, and private players included Tata Power (SED), Rolta India, Wipro, Larsen and Toubro and HCL.

They were expected to take help for this ‘Make’ project under the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2011 from potential foreign partners like Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Thales, Nexter, Schwartz, and BAE Systems.

The BMS systems is a sensor-command-shooter loop, which includes hand-held computer at the infantry soldier and armoured contingent levels, tactical computers at the platoon, company, weapons detachment for armoured, battalion head-quarter and armoured regimental levels. The servers for the systems were to be mounted on specialised vehicles, specifically tailored to house them. The server in turn is supposed to the tactical command, control, communication and intelligence (Tac C3I) through satellite hook-ups.

Former additional director general of artillery, retired major general, Prabir Kumar Chakravorty says, ‘The main components and technology will come from foreign partners and the medium and small enterprises in the value chain. The main vendors will be the system integrators.’

Chakravorty goes on to add that there will be four prototypes for jungle, mountains, plains and deserts. And there are clearly three leading countries who build such systems with they being France (T-BMS), Israel (Hunter) and USA (T-BCB2).

Considering that the MGO was supposed to down-select the Indian vendors by end-2013, its time they wake up and clear the contract that will be a huge step forward in the ‘digitisation of the army.'
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