India seeks early induction of gen next T-90 tanks

16 November 2016 Natalya Rudakova, RIR
Tensions along the India-Pakistan border have spurred the Indian army to seek early delivery of the T-90MS tanks from Russia. A contract for 64 of these gen next tanks has already been signed.
Indian T-90 tank
The T-90 is the third generation Russian tank known for its fire power. Source:AFP/East News

Heightened tensions between India and Pakistan have seen the Indian Army seeking to bolster its firepower. Tensions along the border between the two countries have taken a toll, with casualties on both sides and, on Monday, the Pakistan Foreign Office summoned the Indian envoy to protest the killing of seven of its soldiers on the border.

Defence Ministry sources said the Indian Army is keen to induct the latest version of the T-90 tanks as soon as possible. India has inked a contract for 64 next gen T 90 tanks. The army wants the order to be split between direct imports and domestic production to induct all tanks as quickly as possible.

The T-90 is the third generation Russian tank known for its fire power. The export version of the new T-90MS tanks includes fragmentation projectiles with remote detonation to cause further havoc in adversary’s ranks. 

However, the army is not satisfied with the pace of domestic production and wants some of the tanks to be imported directly from Russia.

The T-90MS is the latest version of the famed Russian T–series of tanks. The India-Russia T-90MS tank will improve manoeuverability along the border, and send a strong signal to Pakistan.

The Indian military earlier had approved a $ 2 billion contract for purchase of 464 Russian T-90MS ‘Tagil’ tanks. The Uralvagonzavod management, which makes the T-90, considers the tank most suitable for the Indian army’s rearmament programme for a new main battle tank.

The Indian Defence Acquisitions Council (DAC), chaired by India's Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, has pre-approved an armaments modernization project for the Indian armed forces for a total sum of 821 billion rupees (over $ 12 billion), the Times of India (TOI) had reported. 

According to the report in the TOI, what has been approved is the purchase of 83 fourth-generation Indian light multipurpose fighter aircraft Tejas Mark-1A and 464 Russian T-90 tanks, and 6 additional regiments of the Indian MRLS ‘Pinaka’.

India plans to set up a licensed assembly plant for the armoured forces through the Ministry of Defence Ordnance Factory Board.

“T-90MS will replace the older T-72 tanks. It addresses some of the shortcomings of the T-90, is easily transportable and less weighty. The domestically made Arjun tanks were originally suited for the terrain in the border states of Punjab and Rajasthan. But increasing population centres and an enhanced network of canals have limited its areas of deployment and operations. This is where T-90MS will be more useful because they are lighter and more manoeuverable. The low ground pressure of T-90 MS tanks is an advantage in the soft sands of Rajasthan and mud of Punjab. “Therefore, T-90MS tanks are well suited for the Indian army,” Major General (Retd) G D Bakshi, a military analyst, was quoted as saying.

The Indian army plans to stop commissioning T-72 tanks in 2025-2030 and replace them with the average main battle tanks of the future. The project is known in India as the FRCV (Future Ready Combat Vehicle). The Russian T-90MS (upgraded T-90S) meets all parameters and could come under the new Indian tank fleet upgrade, said the UVZ CEO.

The T-90 went through baptism of fire in Syria in the spring of 2016. Sources of RNS agency in the Russian Ministry of Defence explained that, at the end of 2015, a large consignment of Russian T-90A tanks, which had previously operated in the Russian army, were delivered in Syria. Syrian tank crews even trained on the Russian sites. According to the agency, the T-90A tanks were first used by the Syrian army near the city of Aleppo, ensuring protection of the Syrian army assault groups.

The T-90 battle tank, built from 1980-1990 on the base of the T-72B, was named ‘Vladimir’ in honour of head designer Vladimir Potkin. The T-90MS is a modernized version of the tank’s export model, named ‘Tagil’. It is equipped with a 125-mm smoothbore gun – 2A46M-5 launcher, guided by missiles with laser-guided sight with thermal imager. The maximum sighting range of the armour-piercing shells is 4,000 m, and high-explosive shells – up to 9,600 m.

The maximum range of the direct shot at the target height of 2 m. is 2120 m. The tank is also protected with dynamic protection against chemical and armour-piercing shells. At the customer’s request, the active protection Arena-E system to combat anti-tank guided missiles can be installed in the T-90MS.

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