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By Bulbul Singh

28 Nov 13. After pressure from India, Russia has agreed to give license-production for Invar anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) for T90 tanks, but sources here said Russia has refused to give technology for the Laser Beam Riding Guidance system.

The Russians had also withheld the full technology transfer of the T-90 until the latter agreed to sign in 2007 outright purchase of 347 additional T-90s, although this has still not taken place, the sources added.

India’s Defence Minister, A K Antony took up the issue of license production and upgrades for the T-90s during the November 18 meeting of the Inter Governmental Commission on Military and Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) in Moscow a senior officer of the Indian Defence Ministry said.

India’s Cabinet Committee of Security, the highest body of the government which decides on security and weapon purchase issues, cleared an Indian Army proposal last year to purchase 25000 Invar missiles for the T-90s, from which 10000 Invar missiles were to be purchased off-the-shelf while the remaining 15000 were to be license-produced at state-owned Bharat Dynamics Limed (BDL).

However, the signing of the contract was delayed as Russia had not agreed to transfer the full technology.

This year, the $500 million contract for the purchase of 25000 Invar missiles was inked, but sources add that the Russians have yet to agree on full transfer of technology, particularly the technology for the Laser Beam Riding Guidance System which currently BDL does not have in-house expertise to develop and build them. Under the contract deliveries of the Invar missiles are to be completed within the next five years.

Invar is a laser beam rider ATGM capable of being fired from the T-90 125mm gun controlled by the gunner and can fire up to a range of 5000 meters at a speed of 350 meters per second. It can neutralize adversaries’ tanks fitted with Explosive Reactive Armour Protection. Invar has a tandem warhead which penetrates up to 35 inches of armour and before detonation. BDL has been manufacturing these missiles under technical collaboration with Rosoboronexport of Russia.

India began the hunt for ammunition, including Invar missiles, after the former Indian Army Chief General V K Singh warned the Indian defence ministry in 2012 of a critical shortage. Thereafter the government is fast-tracking orders to arm the T-90 main-battle tanks with missiles and specialized ammunition for a greater punch on the western front with Pakistan.

In addition to the Invar missiles, 66000 APFSDS (armour-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot) rounds for the T-90 fleet are to be procured.

T-90 Tanks

India placed the first order for 310 T-90 tanks in 2001 and thereafter began license production. India is manufacturing another 1,000 T-90 tanks at the stated-owned Avadi Heavy Vehicles Factory. The annual production of 100 T-90s per annum at the Avadi factory.

An Indian defence ministry official said, “The T-90 tank is being upgraded which will enable faster retaliation and have systems to automatically track targets among its improved features.”

Only about 200 T-90s are being upgraded and there is no plan to upgrade all the tanks.

The upgrade includes a modern targeting system with an automatic target tracker. After locking on to the target the onboard computers track the target in a 360° radius. In the current tank the gunner has to keep track of the moving target while the tank is in motion and a new muzzle reference system which will re-align the gun barrel.

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