The New Indian Express

Army Tanks to Have Night Vi­sion De­vices

Nearly 3,500 bat­tle tanks to be equipped with the de­vices at an es­ti­mated cost of `1,200 crore

- By N C Bipin­dra New Delhi · China · Pakistan · Austria · Belarus · Manmohan Singh · Soviet Union · Pakistan Army · India · Rajasthan · Rajasthan · Punjab · Jammu and Kashmir · Jammu and Kashmir · Belgium · Iceland · Costa Rica · Vijay Kumar Singh · Deepak Kapoor · Gujarat

New Delhi: As part of the ef­forts to en­sure a level play­ing field with China and Pak­istan, the Cen­tre has de­cided to equip the Army’s nearly 3,500 bat­tle tanks with night vi­sion de­vices over the next five years. How­ever, the state-of-the fa­cil­ity doesn’t come cheap at a stag­ger­ing `1,200 cr.

The gaps in the night vi­sion ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the Army tanks was one of the poor de­fence pre­pared­ness is­sues flagged by erst­while Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) Gen­eral V K Singh in a let­ter to Prime Min­is­ter Man­mo­han Singh last year. The let­ter had trig­gered an up­roar in Par­lia­ment af­ter its con­tents be­came pub­lic.

Singh’s pre­de­ces­sor, Gen­eral Deepak Kapoor, too had raised the is­sue in Jan­uary 2010, stat­ing that about 80 per cent of the Soviet-ori­gin 2,400 T-72 ‘Ajeya’ tanks, which form the back­bone of Army’s main bat­tle tank (MBT) reg­i­ments, were night-blind.

In marked con­trast, all the Chi­nese tanks and 80 per cent of the Pak Army tanks had been equipped with bet­ter night vi­sion ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

Apart from the 60-odd reg­i­ments of the vin­tage T72s, In­dia has two reg­i­ments of the in­dige­nous Ar­jun MBT num­ber­ing around 120 and an­other 14 reg­i­ments of the Rus­sian-ori­gin T-90 ‘Bhishma’ tanks num­ber­ing over 800.

The Army de­ploys a ma­jor­ity of its 70-odd tank reg­i­ments along the 1,800 km-long in­ter­na­tional bor­der with Pak­istan in Gu­jarat, Ra­jasthan, Pun­jab and Jammu and Kash­mir as the plains and the desert ter­rain are suit­able the­atres for tank bat­tles.

Present, the T-72s have night vi­sion de­vices for the three-man crew com­pris­ing the Driver, the Gun­ner and the Com­man­der.

Un­til 1995, the T-72 Drivers could see only about 10m ahead dur­ing the night. Now, they have a night vi­sion of about 75 to 100m due to Im­age In­ten­si­fiers (II) retro­fit­ted on the tanks dur­ing an up­grade process un­der­taken some 15 years ago.

“While 80 per cent of the T-72 tanks have been fit­ted with the in­ten­si­fiers, or­ders for the rest 20 per cent have been is­sued. The en­tire fleet of the T-72s will be cov­ered un­der the Im­age In­ten­si­fiers project by 2014,” an of­fi­cer from the Army’s Mech­a­nised Forces Di­rec­torate told ‘Ex­press’.

For the Gun­ners, the Army is in the process of up­grad­ing the T-72 tanks with Ther­mal Im­age Stand Alone Sys­tems (TISAS), pro­vid­ing for a 5km sight range. Till 15 years ago, the Gun­ners had only about 150m night vi­sion.

“About 30 per cent of the T-72s have now been fit­ted with TISAS for the Gun­ners,” the sources said.

The rest 70 per cent would get the ad­vanced Ther­mal Imag­ing Fire Con­trol Sys­tems (TIFCS) with bal­lis­tic com­put­ers fit­ted with var­i­ous at­mo­spheric, wing and tem­per­a­ture sen­sors that can au­to­mat­i­cally cal­cu­late th­ese fac­tors and pro­vide an aim­ing mark on en­emy tar­gets to the Gun­ners.

The Army’s T-72 up­grade pro­pos­als were for procur­ing 700 Ther­mal Imag­ing Stand Alone Sys­tems (TISAS) and 418 Ther­mal Imag­ing Fire Con­trol Sys­tems (TIFCS).

“The ‘buy global’ pro­cure­ment plan for TIFCS is at the con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tion stage. We ex­pect to com­plete the pur­chase and in­te­gra­tion of the new sys­tems in the 201215 five-year plan,” they said.

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