(The Tribune) : The Army is in the process of getting a new and more lethal version of the Russian origin T-90 tank. The Armoured Corps will soon get the latest version of these tanks that will aide quicker retaliation and have gadgets to automatically track targets among its improved features.
A total of 236 of the latest version of the tanks have been ordered, said top sources, while explaining that additional features will be incorporated on the existing T-90 platform with no change in the engine or its traction. However, there is no immediate plan to upgrade the existing fleet of such tanks spread across 20 regiments.
The T-90, along with the upgraded T-72 tanks, form the bulwark of India’s defensive and offensive capability along the sensitive Western border with Pakistan. Two regiments of the indigenous ‘Arjun’ tank have been added at 12 Corps Jodhpur in Rajasthan.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD)-operated Heavy Vehicle Factory (HVF) at Avadi on the outskirts of Chennai that licence-produces the T-90 in India has been tasked with adding the technical goodies to the existing platform. Work has already started on it, a source confirmed.
The key change will be a modern targeting system with an automatic target tracker. The gunner inside the tank has to “lock-on” a target. Once that is done, onboard computers keep a track of the target in a 360° radius. Fire can be directed at the target as and when. At present, the gunner has a tough time keeping track of the moving target while the tank is in motion.
The new version of the tank will also have a “correction input device”. This will assess all prevailing factors such as distance of target, height and temperature of the barrel and correct the line and trajectory of fire on its own.
The third incorporation will be a new muzzle reference system. At present, the front muzzle on the barrel of the tank needs to be aligned afresh each time the barrel position is lowered. The latest version of the T-90 will have a system by which the tank barrel will re-align itself to its earlier-programmed reference point, sources explained.
The add-ons are aimed at faster retaliation in the battlefield after the enemy has been spotted and will save precious time consumed on re-aligning and re-assessing the distance of targets.
The new tanks will also have an improved thermal imager that will give sharper pictures at nighttime from a distance of 3-4 km. The new thermal imager will pick up variations in temperatures of an advancing vehicle or human being and help the tank-commander better understand the looming threat. Existing thermal imagers do not detect variations in temperature.
The Indian upgrade is in line with that undertaken by Russia. At this year’s Def-Expo, the Russians had for the first time unveiled the ‘T-90-MS’, which has earned the sobriquet of “flying tank” in military circles. The tank showcased the latest turret with the ‘Kalina’ modernised targeting system that is integrated with the squad commander’s control system. It even had a more powerful engine.
The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) had cleared a proposal to buy 10,000 Invar missiles for the T-90 tanks on October 18. Some of these will be purchased from Russian manufacturers whereas the remaining would be license-produced by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) under the transfer of technology (ToT) agreement.
- The additional features will be incorporated into the existing T-90 model with no change in the engine or its traction
- A total of 236 latest Russian origin tanks have been ordered
- The Heavy Vehicle Factory on the outskirts of Chennai has started adding the technical goodies to the existing platform