India’s Military Modernisation: Army To Buy 464 T-90 Main Battle Tanks From Russia Indian Army T-90 ‘Bheesma’ tanks roll through Janpath during rehearsals for the Indian Republic Day parade in New Delhi. (Photo Credit: RAVEENDRAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Furthering its defense cooperation with Russia, India is set to approve another high-value purchase from Moscow in next few weeks. Sources say that the Indian Army is interested in purchasing the latest version of T-90 tanks 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. The Indian Army has submitted a proposal seeking final approval of the Defense Acquisition Council, the decision-making body for all India’s defense deals.

Major General R K Arora (retired), Chief Editor of Indian Military Review, says, “We have still not finalized what our future battle tank will be like. Secondly, the development of the Arjun Mark 2 is taking more time; so there is a gap between now and may be 5 years or so before the development of future main battle tank takes place. So, it is a stopgap measure that we are going to buy more T-90 tanks. We may have 800 or so T-90 tanks just now. Now the government is planning to buy 460 more that will make it about 1,300 T-90 tanks in the fleet.”

Transfer of technology was part of the original deal signed with Russia to procure T-90 tanks initially. The transfer took some time but now I think the technology is available. Therefore it has become possible to manufacture the tanks all by us with most of the sub-assemblies being manufactured locally and the rest still required to be imported getting replaced by indigenously produced sub-assemblies over a period of time.

Currently, India has about 13 regiments of T-90 that could go up to 21 regiments by 2020. One regiment consists of 62 tanks. In November 2006, India ordered 330 T-90 tanks from Russia, out of which some are assembled at an Indian ordnance factory. Indian assembled tanks are fitted with the Shtora self-protection system as well as Catherine thermal images from Thales of France and Peleng of Belarus.

India’s formidable T-90s at Exercise Vijayee Bhava:

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