India to Contract for More Russian Tanks, Plans Domestic Assembling

 

 The T-90 tank

   If Russia approves India’s ‘Acceptance of Necessity’ for 464 T-90 tanks, this will be the second major defense deal with Russia under PM Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative. The first `Make in India’ deal in the defence sector is to produce Kamov helicopters. Thus, Russia scores two out of two in Make in India category for defence sector.

   In a major push to provide more teeth to its armed forces, India has decided to procure 464 T-90 tanks from Russia at cost of approximately $2.1 billion. Sources said the Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by India’s Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar has cleared the proposal for latest version of T-90 tanks.

   The approved version of T-90 tanks will be equipped with thermal imaging night vision cameras and some additional countermeasures to significantly reduce the chances of being hit by enemy anti-tank semi-automatic guided weapons.

   “It is an undeniable fact that some of the T-72 tanks issued to the units about 25 years back are to be replaced by newer tanks. The T-90 tank has many features which the T-72 did not possess. The option to go for an entirely new design would take more time. Besides, some machines for manufacture of the T-90 tank and the workforce are already available. All these factors recommend manufacture of T-90 tank domestically. In any case it is a good tank,” said Brigadier Rumel Dahiya, a defense expert.

    Sources added that the tanks will be manufactured by the state-owned Ordnance Factory Board. The T-90 is already being assembled at Heavy Vehicle Factory (HVF), Avadi, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

   “Where to employ the new tanks is an operational decision. Suffice is to say that the tank is fit to be deployed anywhere,” says Brig. Dahiya on the issue of importance of deployment along western border.

   Currently, India has about 13 regiments of T-90 that could go up to 21 regiments by 2020. One regiment consists of 62 tanks. India began ordering T-90 tanks from Russia from 2006 onwards and some of them were assembled at an Ordnance Factory Board unit. Renamed ‘Bhishma’, a legendary warrior, the Indian T-90s are fitted with the Shtora self-protection system as well as Catherine thermal images from Thales of France and Peleng of Belarus.

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