The Indian Army wants to convert its 3.5 lakh infantry soldiers into 'Terminators'- high-tech, self-contained killing machines by 2020.
This new program of the army has been in the pipeline for the past three years but only now has it a concrete shape. The infantry commanders' conference chaired by General J J Singh discussed the program at Mhow.
F-INSAS (future infantry soldier as a system) is the Army's futuristic modernization program for foot-soldiers. It is similar to US Army's "land warrior" and "objective force warrior" program. F-INSAS essentially aims at "converting an infantryman into a fully-networked all-terrain, all-weather, weapons platform with enhanced lethality, survivability, sustainability, mobility and situational awareness" for the digitized battlefield of the future.
F-INSAS will mainly be developed through a military-DRDO-indigenous industry partnership. Many senior officers like Gen Singh have visited countries like US, Israel and France for a first-hand look at the programs they have undertaken for their infantry soldiers.
The Indian infantry soldiers will gradually get equipments like light-weight integrated ballistic helmets with "heads-up display" and miniaturized communication systems; portable visual, chemical and biological sensors; hand-held computer displays, GPS and video links; "smart" vests with sensors to monitor vital body signs; and of course lethal firepower with laser-guided modular weapon systems. There are plans to also equip each infantry section of 10-12 soldiers with a "robotic mule", which apart from helping them carry additional load will also be mounted with remotely-activated weapon systems for concentrated firepower.
"F-INSAS aims at integrating cutting-edge composite material sciences, information technology, nanotechnology and biotechnology as well as robotics to make a soldier into a versatile and potent sensor and shooter platform in a fully-networked battlefield environment," said a senior officer.
The defense ministry, led by A K Antony, has assured the Army of full support for its around 600 modernization schemes, worth about Rs 70,000 crore in the 11th Plan (2007-2012) period.