The Indian Army will induct additional 464 Russian-origin upgraded T-90 'Bhishma' main battle-tanks at a cost of Rs 13,448 crore. The acquisition will be done in the time period of 2022-2026 to support the tank's "shock and awe" capabilities on the western front. This comes at a time when Pakistan is also discussing a deal with Russia for acquiring nearly 360 such tanks.
The order to produce the 464 T-90 tanks will soon be given to Avadi Heavy Vehicle Factory (HVF) which works under the Ordnance Factory Board. This comes after the cabinet committee on security cleared the license acquisition from Russia over a month ago, The Times of India quoted Defence Ministry sources as saying.
The Indian Army already has 1,070 T-90 tanks as well as 124 'Arjun' and 2,400 older T-72 tanks in its 67 armoured regiments. After the first 657 T-90 tanks were imported from Russia for Rs 8,525 crore from 2001 onwards, additional 1,000 are being progressively licensed and produced by HVF using Russian kits. "There has been some delay in the indent for the remaining 464 tanks, which will also have night-fighting capabilities. Once it is done, the first 64 tanks should be delivered in 30-41 months", the report quoted a source as saying.
This move comes at a time when the Army is reformatting its entire war-fighting machinery and the "Cold start" or "Pro-Active Strategy" which envisages fast mobilisation to strike hard across the border with multiple offensive thrusts, the report added.
India has already procured additional laser-guided Invar missiles and 125mm APFSDS (armourpiercing fin-stabilised discarding sabot) ammunition for the T-90 tanks. However, the Army's "future ready combat vehicle (FRCV)" project is yet to take off. "The Army had planned their induction from 2027-2028 onwards...it's keeping its fingers crossed", the source added.
(Edited by: Nehal Solanki)