INDIA TO BUY 347 T-90 TANKS DIRECTLY AND PRODUCE AND ANOTHER 1000
By Bulbul Singh
04 Dec 07. India inks deal worth $1.2bn to buy additional 347 T90 MBTs from Russia and begins preparation to license produce another 1000 T-90 S tanks at Indian facilities. Meanwhile, the Indian defence ministry is also planning to upgrade the existing T-72 tanks numbering 1600 with the Indian Army.
India has since received the 310 T-90 main battle tanks which included direct delivery of fully formed tanks numbering 124 tanks and kits for 186 more for assembly at Avadhi. The first locally assembled T-90 rolled out in January 2004, and the entire order has since been completed.
The latest order for purchase of 347 T-90 tanks is in addition to the license production of another 1000 T-90S tanks to be undertaken by the state-owned ordnance factories.
India’s state-owned ordnance factories will license production another 1000 T-90S tanks for the Indian Army in various phases. Under the first phase around 300 tanks will be produced at the at ordnance factories at Medak in Andhra Pradesh state and at the Avadhi Heavy Vehicles factory in Tamil Nadu state, in southern India and is likely to be completed by 2011. In the second phase another 700 T-90S tanks will be produced by the state owned ordnance factories at Avadhi and Medak and the production will be completed by 2020.
An Indian Army official explained that direct purchases of T-90S tanks has been resorted under the latest contract to meet the depleting tank force, as the tanks are being scrapped at a much faster rate then being replenished. Moreover the homegrown Arjun tank has not been accepted as the Main Battle Tank and the production of 125 Arjun tanks is also still in the pipeline. The facilities at Avadhi ordnance factories which is building the Arjun tanks are stretched and thus the direct procurement of T-90S tanks on fully formed formation. The delivery of 347 T-90 tanks is to begin by 2008 and will be completed by 2010.
Around fifty per cent of the 3500 variety of Indian Army tanks will be scrapped in the next five to seven years and the Indian Army had been requesting the Indian defence ministry to purchase additional tanks in fully formed structure to meet the shortages estimated in the years ahead.
With the home-grown Arjun tank nowhere in site, the Indian Army was suddenly jolted when Pakistan purchased 320 Ukrainian T-80 and T-84 tanks in 1996 disturbing the combat parity between the two countries in Indian Army’s armour. Thereafter India signed contract in 2001 for the procurement of 310 T-90 tanks.
Sources in the Indian Army said, upgrade of around 1600 T-72 tanks will also begin and global tenders will be invited in early 2008 to carry out the upgrade.
The T-72 tanks purchased in the 80’s from erstwhile USSR need to be upgraded with new fire-control systems, night-fighting systems, nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) protection systems, and laser-warning systems.