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Explained: All about F-INSAS, Nipun mines, LCA — the new defence systems handed over to Army

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Tuesday handed over two new weapons – the Nipun mines, the Landing Craft Assault (LCA) and the F-INSAS system – to the Army. What are these new weapons, and why are they critical to the Army's modernisation plans?

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh hands over indigenously-developed Future Infantry Soldier as a System (F-INSAS) to the Indian Army in the presence of Army Chief General Manoj Pande, in New Delhi, Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022. (PTI Photo)

A day after a made-in-India howitzer gun, the ATAGS, was used for the first time in the ceremonial 21-gun salute during the Independence Day celebrations, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Tuesday handed over several new defence systems, including the F-INSAS, the Nipun mines, the Landing Craft Assault (LCA), to the Army.

What is the F-INSAS system?

F-INSAS stands for Future Infantry Soldier As A System, a programme for infantry modernisation aimed at increasing the operational capability of the soldier. As part of the project, soldiers are being equipped with modern systems that are lightweight, all-weather-all-terrain, cost-effective and low maintenance.

The full-gear of the F-INSAS system includes an AK-203 assault rifle, which is a Russian-origin gas-operated, magazine-fed, select-fire assault rifle. It has a range of 300 metre, and is being made at Korwa near Amethi in a Russia-India joint venture. A contract for over six lakh AK-203 rifles was signed in December last year between the Ministry of Defence and the Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited (IRRPL).

On the weaponry front, other than the AK-203, the F-INSAS includes a multi-mode hand grenade, which can be used in defensive and offensive modes.

In defensive mode, the grenades are to be hurled when the thrower is in a shelter or has a cover, while the target is in the open and can be harmed by fragmentation. In the offensive mode, the grenades do not fragment and the adversary is harmed by the blast or is stunned. The weapon kit also has a multi-purpose knife for close quarters combat.

Apart from this, the F-INSAS provides soldiers with ballistic helmets and ballistic goggles for protection against small projectiles and fragments, along with a bullet-proof vest. The helmet and the bullet-proof jacket are capable of protecting the soldier against 9 mm bullets and ammunition fired from AK-47 rifles. For target acquisition, the soldier has rifle-mounted holographic sight for fast and accurate aiming with a range of 200 metre. The helmet has a mounted night-vision device for operating in low-light conditions, and the option of installing a thermal imager sight. Thermal imagers covert infrared energy from objects into thermal images.

The F-INSAS also comes with hands-free, secured advanced communications set for real-time exchange of information with the command post and fellow soldiers for enhanced situational awareness.

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Most importantly, all these items have been sourced from Defence Public Sector Undertakings, and private Indian industries. They have been indigenously designed by the Indian entities, including the DRDO and the ordnance factories ecosystem.

What is the F-INSAS modelled on?

Conceived in the 2000s, F-INSAS is one among many soldier modernisation programmes across the world. The US has Land Warrior, while the UK has FIST (Future Integrated Soldier Technology). According to estimates, over 20 armies around the world are following such programmes. The DRDO had conceptualised the F-INSAS (not to be confused with INSAS or Indian Small Arms System) in line with the targets of the Army’s Infantry Soldier Modernisation Programme with an aim to optimise the soldier’s performance across the full spectrum and duration of a military operation.

DRDO scientists revealed that similar infantry modernisation programmes from the US, France, Germany and Israel were studied for the Indian project.

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The quality requirements for the project were set by the Army. Officials also said that research and development efforts are still on to further finetune the F-INSAS for all types of conflict scenarios and terrains.

What are Nipun mines?

Nipun mines are indigenously designed and developed anti-personnel mines, termed by the DRDO as ‘soft target blast munition’. These mines are meant to act as the first line of defence against infiltrators and enemy infantry. They have been developed with the efforts of Armament Research and Development Establishment, a Pune-based DRDO facility, and Indian industry. Anti-personnel mines are meant to be used against humans as against anti-tank mines that are aimed at heavy vehicles. They are smaller in size and can be deployed in large numbers. The Army has said that the mine will provide protection to the troops on the borders and is more potent and effective than the existing anti-personnel mine in its arsenal.

What is the Landing Craft Assault?

The Landing Craft Assault (LCA) is meant to serve as a replacement for the boats with limited capabilities currently in use in the Pangong Tso lake. The LCA, which has been indigenously developed by Goa-based Aquarius ShipYard Limited, is said to have better launch, speed and capacity to operate across water obstacles in eastern Ladakh. Similar vessels are already in operation in the Indian Navy.

Some other defence systems

Other than these systems and equipment, the Defence Minister also formally handed over to the Army a thermal imaging sight for T-90 tanks; hand held thermal imager; and frequency-hopping radio relay for tactical communication across much longer ranges.

Further, Downlink Equipment with Recording Facility to help helicopters in surveillance missions was also handed over. Using this system, reconnaissance data is recorded and can be accessed only when the helicopter returns to the base.

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Some other defence systems included, Infantry Protected Mobility Vehicles; Quick Reaction Fighting Vehicles and Mini Remotely Piloted Aerial System surveillance, detection and reconnaissance at the infantry battalion and mechanised units level.

First published on: 16-08-2022 at 03:18:25 pm
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