F-INSAS is India's program to equip its Infantry with state-of-the-art equipment. F-INSAS means Futuristic Infantry Soldier As a System.
The F-INSAS program
F-INSAS has been taken up to equip Indian infantry with advanced weaponry, communication network and instant access to information on the battlefield. This program is similar to the future soldier programs of other nations. F-INSAS includes a fully networked all-terrain, all-weather personal-equipment platform, enhanced firepower and mobility for the digitalised battlefield of the future. The weight carried by soldiers will need to be reduced by at least 50%.
The fully integrated Infantry of tomorrow will be equipped with mission-oriented equipment integrated with his buddy soldier team, the sub-unit, as also the overall C4I2 (Command, Control, Communications Computers, Information and Intelligence) system.
The Indian Army intends to modernise its entire 465 infantry and paramilitary battalions by 2020 with this program.
Helmet and visor
The bullet-proof helmet, capable of stopping a 9mm round at close range, contains a mounted flash light, thermal sensors, a night vision capability, a digital compass, video cameras, a computer, nuclear, biological and chemical sensors, and an audio headset. The visor is intended to be integrated and to act as a heads-up display monitor equivalent to two 17-inch computer monitors.
The personal clothing of this soldier of the future would be lightweight with a bullet-proof jacket. The jacket would be non-flammable, waterproofed yet breathable. The new attire will enable him to carry extra loads and resist the impact of nuclear, radiological, chemical and biological warfare. The uniform will also carry solar elements for charging a palmtop and other attached electronic equipment. It will contain external an oxygen supply and respirator to provide protection against gas and smoke and will include fire-proof knee and elbow pads and ballistic and laser eye protection goggles. A bullet-proof, armored waistcoat including flexible ballistic, hard ballistic, ceramic armor plates covering the front, back and groin and an armored, electronic jacket with a load-bearing system will also be included. The electronic jacket integrates the electronics (such as a computer unit, energy manager unit, peripheral equipment interfaces, user interfaces, a radio, a man-machine interface, a Global Positioning System (GPS), cables, connector, camouflaging system, wearable environmental control and a micro-climate cooling system). A flexible water bottle, magazines, grenades and other equipment holders and pockets optimizes weight distribution on the soldier. The new uniform will have vests with sensors to monitor the soldier's health parameters and provide quick medical relief. He might also wear flame-resistant, moisture-defeating undergarments; flame-resistant hand, face, and foot protection and a pair of non-skid shoes with mine detection sensors would complete the ensemble.
The weapons sub-system is built around a multi-calibre individual weapon system with the fourth calibre attached to a grenade launcher. These include a 5.56 mm, a 7.62 mm and a new 6.8 mm under development for the first time in India. The UBGL (Under Barrel Grenade Launcher) will be capable of firing air bursting grenades. The sub-system includes a thermal weapon sight and laser range finder to provide the soldier with range and direction information. The GPS location information will allow the soldier to call for indirect fire accurately. There are two types of next generation infantry rifle under development in cooperation with Israel. In this context, news sources report that the Indian MoD has recently issued a global tender for the acquisition of a new assault rifle and a Close Quarter Battle (CQB) carbine.
The soldier will be equipped with a USB 2.0. digital data bus, Palmtop GPS navigation device, secured advance audio communication set, advance electronic warfare data manager, secured network connection where each radio can subscribe to two networks simultaneously. This offers the squad leader some flexibility in organizing communication networks in his section. Each network has an audio conference channel, with priority given to the squad leader, an alert channel from the infantryman to his leader, and a data transmission channel. Voice and data transmissions are based on tried and tested civilian technology (domestic cordless telephone technology). Each sub-network works from a base carried by the squad leader. As RIF sets are all identical, a soldier can replace his commander if necessary by configuring his set as base. The radio is configured by the computer, thereby limiting the number of control buttons needed on the set. The soldier might be able to communicate with other soldiers and locate or generate maps to find his location, and he will be aware of the situation on the battlefield. The palmtop will inform soldiers where other friendly forces are in relation to them. It will also enable them to transfer messages. Terrain equipment for various specific missions will also be carried.
Thermal imaging, sensors and night vision equipment, currently deployed in weapon systems such as artillery and main battle tanks, will be customised to make them man-portable on the battlefield. Defense advanced GPS receivers, infrared sensors, thermal sensors, optical sensors, electromagnetic and radio frequency sensors and many other sensors, radars and jammers would also be carried.
Procurements for program
Procurement requests for the 'open calibre' carbine valued at around 44 billion (US$704.0 million) have been initiated with global manufacturers. The procurement covers night-vision devices, laser designators and detachable under-barrel grenade launchers.
Indigenisation of program
With the intent to retain its strategic autonomy, self-reliance and indigenisation of the program is being emphasised. Most of the equipment is being locally developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) independently, as the prime developer and the system integrator, as well as with a private partnership. Tata Advanced Systems, Rolta and Thales Ltd are among the firms to be associated. Out of five major technologies for the futuristic soldier, the following two have been developed by the DRDO:
- Design and development of a multi-calibre individual weapon system.
- Design and development of an air bursting grenade for individual weapons.
- "Indian Army To Invest in F-INSAS (Future Infantry Soldier as a System) Programme". India Defence. http://www.india-defence.com/reports/3269. Retrieved 2008-05-31.
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- "Future infantry: unravelling the Indian Army's F-INSAS programme". army-technology.com. http://www.army-technology.com/features/featurefuture-infantry-unravelling-the-indian-armys-f-insas-programme/. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
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- Rahul Bedi (14 May 2008). "India seeks carbines to boost future soldier programme". http://www.janes.com/news/defence/systems/jdw/jdw080514_1_n.shtml. Retrieved 2008-05-31.
- :: Bharat-Rakshak.com – Indian Military News Headlines ::
- Jane's defense weekly confirms F-INSAS
- Video of F-INSAS soldier and explanation of various systems
- President Kalam's visions for a hi-tech soldier
- Future infantry: unravelling the Indian Army's F-INSAS programme on army-technology.com
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