In­dian Army’s Ar­mour Pro­file

De­lay in de­ci­sion-mak­ing which is en­hanced by the in­nu­mer­able agencies in­volved, de­part­men­tal ri­val­ries, gen­eral lack of ur­gency in get­ting things done and proper re­source man­age­ment, is af­fect­ing the In­dian Army’s ar­mour pro­file. What is wor­ri­some to­day

SP's LandForces - - FRONT PAGE - Lt Gen­eral (Retd) V.K. Kapoor

De­lay in de­ci­sion-mak­ing which is en­hanced by the in­nu­mer­able agencies in­volved, de­part­men­tal ri­val­ries, gen­eral lack of ur­gency in get­ting things done and proper re­source man­age­ment, is af­fect­ing the In­dian Army’s ar­mour pro­file.

THE IN­DIAN ARMY NEEDS to spell out its pri­or­i­ties as far as in­duc­tion and mod­erni­sa­tion pro­grammes of their bat­tle tanks are con­cerned. The de­lays in de­ci­sion­mak­ing are sub­stan­tially en­hanced by the in­nu­mer­able agencies in­volved, de­part­men­tal ri­val­ries, gen­eral lack of ur­gency in get­ting things done and proper re­source man­age­ment. What is wor­ri­some to­day is that even the de­sired am­mu­ni­tion of tanks is in short sup­ply.

Ar­jun Tank

The Army had started in­duct­ing Ar­jun tanks as far back as 2004 but it was much later in 2009 that the tank was fielded in strength. The Army equipped two reg­i­ments with Ar­jun tanks out of the 124 Ar­jun main bat­tle tanks (MBT) or­dered by it ear­lier. As a re­sult of the sat­is­fac­tory feed­back by the units and from the tank crews, an additional 124 Ar­jun Mark II tanks have been or­dered sub­ject to sat­is­fac­tory de­vel­op­ment of the up­graded Mark II ver­sion of the tank for equip­ping two more reg­i­ments. These tanks will have sub­stan­tially up­graded ca­pa­bil­i­ties of fire­power, mo­bil­ity and pro­tec­tion. The de­vel­op­ment of Ar­jun Mark II tank with 43 im­prove­ments has com­menced and limited tech­ni­cal tri­als in­cor­po­rat­ing the im­prove­ments have been car­ried out in Ra­jasthan. First batch of MBT Ar­jun Mark II is likely to go in for pro­duc­tion by 2014-15 at the Heavy Ve­hi­cles Fac­tory (HVF) Avadi.

T-90 Tank

As re­gards the T-90 tanks, 310 T-90S tanks had been or­dered from Rus­sia in the first in­stance. Of these, 124 fully-as­sem­bled tanks were di­rectly im­ported from Rus­sia and 186 kits were im­ported for as­sem­bly in In­dia. The first in­dige­nously as­sem­bled T-90S rolled out from HVF on Jan­uary 7, 2004. These tanks stand fully op­er­a­tionalised. Additional 347 T-90S tanks were in­ducted into ser­vice which brings the to­tal to 657 T-90S tanks. As per me­dia re­ports, the Army to­tal re­quire­ment is 1,657 T-90S tanks. The de­fects in the fire con­trol sys­tems of T-90S tanks due to ex­ces­sive heat in the tur­rets dur­ing the sum­mers, is be­ing reme­died through air con­di­tion­ing of the in­te­rior.

On Septem­ber 13, 2013, a ma­jor deal was cleared by the De­fence Ac­qui­si­tion Coun­cil (DAC) for the man­u­fac­tur­ing of 236 additional T-90 tanks for the In­dian Army. The or­der, worth over 6,000 crore ($940 mil­lion), will be ex­e­cuted by the Avadi Heavy Ve­hi­cles Fac­tory that al­ready has a li­cence from Rus­sia to man­u­fac­ture T-90 tanks from kits pur­chased from Rus­sia. An­other con­tract, worth about $470 mil­lion, has been signed for the de­liv­er­ies of the In­var mis­siles, which will be in­stalled on Rus­sian-built T-90 tanks. This has to be com­pleted within the next five years. In­var is a laser-guided anti-tank mis­sile with a range of five kilo­me­tres (three miles) and the ca­pa­bil­ity to pen­e­trate ex­plo­sive re­ac­tive ar­mour (ERA). Ac­cord­ing to lo­cal me­dia re­ports, In­dia plans to pur­chase 25,000 In­var mis­siles for its T-90 tanks, in­clud­ing 10,000 to be pro­cured di­rectly from Rus­sia and 15,000 more to be man­u­fac­tured do­mes­ti­cally un­der a Rus­sian li­cence.

Up­grad­ing of T-72 Tank

The pro­gramme launched to mod­ernise the T-72 M1 Ajeya MBTs is still un­sat­is­fac­tory and has not pro­gressed much. About 1,700 T-72 M1s have been man­u­fac­tured un­der li­cence at HVF, Avadi. The T-72 M1 mod­erni­sa­tion pro­gramme un­der Project Rhino will ex­tend the ser­vice life of the MBT by 20 years; en­hance their ac­cu­racy with new fire con­trol sys­tem (FCS) whose tri­als are un­der way. This will give night fight­ing ca­pa­bil­ity through a ther­mal imager in­te­grated with the tank’s FCS. Three hun­dred T-72 tanks of the Army have been fit­ted with ther­mal imag­ing stand-alone sights (TISAS) while 300 more are in the pipe­line bring­ing the to­tal to 600 TISAS. Thus about 1,000 re­main­ing T-72 tanks will be fit­ted with more mod­ern in­te­grated fire con­trol sys­tems. How­ever, the over­all night fight­ing ca­pa­bil­ity of In­dia’s ar­mour is cur­rently in­ad­e­quate and op­er­a­tionally un­ac­cept­able. The tanks are ad­di­tion­ally be­ing equipped with new type of ex­plo­sive re­ac­tive ar­mour (ERA) pan­els which will pro­vide pro­tec­tion against ki­netic en­ergy as well as tan­dem war­head, chemical en­ergy pro­jec­tiles for bet­ter pro­tec­tion, along with a laser warn­ing sys­tem and new ra­dio sets for bet­ter and more se­cure com­mu­ni­ca­tions. A new power-pack is also un­der con­sid­er­a­tion to fur­ther en­hance mo­bil­ity, es­pe­cially with the heavy ERA pack­ages that are be­ing strapped on. An aux­il­iary power-pack for en­vi­ron­men­tal con­trol and in­te­grated fire de­tec­tion and sup­pres­sion sys­tem are also be­ing in­tro­duced. Gun bar­rels ca­pa­ble of fir­ing con­ven­tional mu­ni­tions and guided mis­siles are likely to re­place the ex­ist­ing bar­rels. The mod­erni­sa­tion of the T-72 is way be­hind sched­ule due to com­pli­cated pro­cure­ment pro­ce­dures ex­ac­er­bated by de­layed de­ci­sion-mak­ing and in-house dis­agree­ments.

The T-90, the im­proved T-72 M1 tanks and Ar­jun tanks, will con­sti­tute In­dia’s ar­mour might in the fu­ture till a new MBT is cho­sen or de­signed in­dige­nously. Mean­while, light tanks for the east­ern theatre are still be­ing de­bated.

Mech­a­nised In­fantry

The mech­a­nised in­fantry is cur­rently equipped with the BMP-2 in­fantry com­bat ve­hi­cle (ICV) named Sarath. Over 1,000 of these have been man­u­fac­tured since 1987. A new vari­ant is the 81mm car­rier mor­tar tracked that is based on the chas­sis of the Sarath ICV and has been in­dige­nously de­vel­oped to en­hance the in­te­gral fire­power avail­able to mech­a­nised in­fantry bat­tal­ions. Other vari­ants in­clude a com­mand post, an am­bu­lance, ar­moured dozer and en­gi­neer re­con­nais­sance ve­hi­cles. The ICVs are be­ing equipped with ther­mal imag­ing night sights and im­age in­ten­si­fiers. The Army had or­dered 198 car­rier mor­tar tracked ve­hi­cle, which have since been de­liv­ered. The ICV BMP-2/2K is be­ing mod­ernised by up­grad­ing its ex­ist­ing NBC Sys­tem, fire de­tec­tion and sup­pres­sion sys­tem, ERA pan­els to pro­vide ex­tra pro­tec­tion and a new pow­er­pack. The scheme to fit en­vi­ron­men­tal con­trol for ICV BMP-2 is in an ad­vanced stage of pro­cure­ment. Additional bat­tle­field sur­veil­lance radar (medium-range) mounted on high mo­bil­ity wheeled ve­hi­cles are also be­ing pro­cured.

The In­dian Army has planned for a fu­tur­is­tic in­fantry com­bat ve­hi­cle (FICV) to re­place the BMP-2 with key op­er­a­tional and per­for­mance pa­ram­e­ters en­vis­aged in the In­dian con­text. A project to build 2,600 FICV cost­ing ap­prox­i­mately 60,000 crore has been ap­proved by the govern­ment. This project is a pioneer in ‘Make High-Tech’ cat­e­gory where for the first time the de­fence in­dus­try has in­vited par­tic­i­pa­tion by pri­vate es­tab­lished agencies.

T-90S Bat­tle Tank

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