NEW DELHI: The process to modernise the mechanised infantry fighting arm of the Indian Army will soon get a fillip as the preparations for request for proposal (RFP) for more than 500 infantry combat vehicles (ICVs) are in advanced stages.

Sources said that against its request for information (RFI) issued earlier, it received responses from 15 Indian vendors. However, issues raised by a few vendors are being actively worked out.

ICVs are to be deployed in high-altitude areas (HAAs), deserts and amphibious terrains. The Army is seeking to replace its nearly 10 battalions with new ICVs. Besides, the Army is also looking to procure 105 wheeled armoured personnel carriers (APCs) for recce and support. RFI for this is under formulation, a defence source said.

Meanwhile, the US-made Stryker armoured infantry combat vehicle under consideration will soon begin its testing and trials. Stryker is an eight-wheel-driven combat vehicle developed by General Dynamics Land Systems.

Sources in the defence and security establishment said talks between India and the US on Stryker are “at an advanced stage”. One of the reasons why Stryker is under consideration, according to sources, is that Indian vendors are unable to meet the Qualitative Requirements (QR).

In case the Stryker deal is firmed up, there will be limited off-the-shelf purchase under the US’ foreign military sales (FMS) to begin with. It will then be followed by a joint production in India and vehicles will be configured as per Indian Army’s requirements comprised of indigenous equipment and parts, sources said.

The capabilities of the Stryker “will have to be altered to suit Indian high altitude terrain such as eastern Ladakh”, where tensions along the Line of Actual Control have been ongoing between India and China since May 2020. Sources said the decision will be taken progressively after a “holistic analysis”.

(With Inputs From Agencies)