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By Bulbul Singh

17 Mar 08. The Indian Army has stepped up the upgrade of it’s over 1400 T-72 tanks worth over $1.5bn. In line with this move a global Request for Information has been sent to selected defence majors for supply of Thermal imaging systems for some of the T-72 tanks.
The T-72 upgrade will include:
• A new fire control system

• A thermal imager

• New radios:

• A fibre optic gyro-based navigation system

• Laser Warning System

*The tank’s stabilisation will also be upgraded
*A new Integrated Fire Detection & Suppression system has also found its place in the upgrade.
*Improvements to the tank’s Nuclear, Biological & Chemical protection are also included

Meanwhile The Indian Army has floated a global Request For Information (RFI) to purchase 1000 pieces of Thermal Imaging Fire Control Systems for the T-72 tanks. The RFI has been sent to Thales of France, Sagem of France, Elbit of Israel and Rosoboronoexport of Russia and Bumar of Poland.

In 2004 the Indian Army began up gradation of the T-72 tanks when a thermal imager integrated with the Drawa-T fire control system supplied by Israel’s El-Op was selected. Indian Army officials confirmed that the upgrade of the T-72 tanks which began in 2004 never took off adding that fresh up gradation process has begun now with the global floating of the Thermal Imaging Systems. The Indian army officials added that fresh bids will also be called for purchasing the Fire Control System; New radios; A fibre optic gyro-based navigation system, Laser Warning System.

Indian defence ministry officials also confirmed that firm orders had been placed in 2004 for the purchase of radios from state-owned Bharat Electronics Limited, and other state-owned agencies. The officials added that India would now like to buy the best in the overseas market, including the private defense sector to upgrade the T-72 tanks with the Indian Army.

The latest RFI, which will pave the way for the issue of an Request For Proposal (RFP) in the next six months has sought information is on the weight of the systems, gun elevation angle, gun azimuth angle and gun positioning angle. Some of the other information sought pertains to the ability to have Muzzler Reference System. How does the system work in case the computer fails and its ability to manually zero reading, find the range, target speed, variation in muzzle velocity etc.

The RFI has sought information from the defence overseas majors on several parameters of Physical characteristics, Fire control System, Composition of Sight, Stabilized Head Mirror, Thermal sight, Day channel, Laser Range Finder, Range, Control Panel, Monitoring/Viewing Device and Control Panel, Hit Probability, Mode of operation and Operational and Maintenance Characteristics of the systems.
Based on the Information provided the Indian Army will draw the Qualitative requirements for the purchase of the Thermal imaging systems and the RFP is expected to be floated by the end of this year.

The purchase of the Thermal Imaging Systems is part of the program to upgrade nearly 1400 T-72 tanks of the Indian army in various phases.
The other questions asked include:
Does the gunner sight have a stabilized head mirror, thermal sight, day optical channel, laser rangefinder?
Is the sight independently physically stabilized in both planes?
What is accuracy of sight in milli radians?
What is the operative range of the infrared spectrum of thermal imager camera?

The Indian Army is anticipating a severe shortfall in the number of tanks which is expected to dwindle to around 2000 in the next five years from the current level of 3500 as the old tanks like the T-55 and Vijayanta and other aging tanks are scrapped. The Indian Army has given an order for the production of 125 homemade Arjun tanks which the Indian Army has yet to clear for combat use. The Indian Army has also

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