Indian Army’s Future Infantry Soldiers To Get Lethal Weapons And Better Protection



By Abhishek Saxsena

India has never been an instigator of war, but unfortunately has been involved in five major ones since Independence. The Indian Army has proved its mettle and emerged victorious and a huge credit goes to the Infantry. A large part of the 1.4 million strong Indian Army is made up of the Infantry. In war, the artillery pulverises the enemy with heavy gun fire, the armoured corps charge ahead to take over enemy territory. But it’s the Infantry that holds the ground. Just so we understand how important the infantry is, most Chiefs of Army Staff have been infantry officers.

To prepare for future wars, the Indian Army is in the process of modernising all its arms. New generation T-90MS tanks for the Armoured corps and field gun programs for the artillery are being pursued, the infantry is not to be left behind. The modernisation program began with the F-INSAS (Future Infantry Soldier As a System), but has now been dropped in favour of two separate programs – the Battlefield Management System and arming the Infantry with better offensive and defensive gear.

Modern infantryman



Currently the Infantry battalions of the Army are equipped with INSAS assault rifles. While the gun hasn’t found wide acceptance among the soldiers on the ground, the Army is in the process of acquiring new assault rifles to arm the Infantry. To this effect the army will now tender for the 7.62x51mm calibre rifles.

The reason is that the Army prefers the 7.62 round, that kills, to the 5.56 round that incapacitates. The Army has specified the new rifles to have high kill probability at 500 meter range. The military wisdom till now was that the 5.56mm rifle was better for conventional war because it generally injured an enemy soldier, tying down at least two of his colleagues to carry him in the battlefield. Conversely, the 7.62mm rifle was better for counter-insurgency since terrorists had to be killed at the first instance, eliminating the risk of "suicide bombing". The fully-automatic Excalibur, which fires 5.56x45mm ammunition, is a much-improved version of INSAS rifle that entered service in 1994-1995. But the Army now wants 7.62mm rifles for greater lethal prowess.

The Army wants to quickly acquire about 65,000 assault rifles, and additionally wants to get 165,000 carbines for close quarter battles.
According to close sources, Remington,Kalashnikov & Colt are said to be in the race giving stiff competition.

Better protected

The Army will also source a total of 350,000 bullet proof jackets to better protect the soldiers. Last year 50,000 jackets were procured on an emergency basis after the Surgical Strikes in Pakistan. The jackets for the future infantryman will be light weight so as not to impede mobility, while still affording protection to head, neck and groin.

New light weight ballistic helmets are also required, which number around 150,000. The helmets will be able to stop a 9mm bullet from a distance of 20 metres and also have provision for mounting night vision devices. The helmets for ‘commanders’ will be equipped with integrated communication headsets.

Battlefield Management System


With technology permeating every field today, future wars will be network centric and each future Indian Infantryman will be directly ‘connected’ to the command center. The system will allow transmission of data and information in the form of images that the soldier sees also being viewed by decision makers in the command headquarters.

The system will be packed with technology – sensors, laser range finders, cameras. The system will merge all this information to give the soldier a real-time picture of the battlefield. The tactical level communication will take place over secure radio networks, while India’s communication satellites will allow for command level communication. Each soldier will have a personal GPS device and will be able to see the position of other soldiers via a helmet mounted display.

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