India’s main battle tanks had one been relatively advanced by world standards, but long delays in fielding the indigenous “Arjun” MBT, combined with a successful Pakistani/Ukrainian program for its T-80UD “Al-Khalid” tanks, eroded India’s local advantage. The poor performance of T-72s in combat against modern main battle tanks could not have been comforting, either. In early October 2006, India Defence and Indian papers reported that the Indian Army intended to produce nearly 1,000 T90S ‘Bhishma’ main battle tanks in India by 2020. These would be bought in addition to the 310 T90 MBTs already under contract from Russia. Later that month, news reports noted a follow-on contract for another 330 T-90S tank kits from Russia that would assembled in India. Taken together those 2 firm production agreements reportedly exceed $1 billion.
The modernized T-72 now known as the T-90 has reportedly encountered serious problems in Indian service, from issues with its Thales thermal imaging systems, to difficulties in hot weather, to low readiness rates. Meanwhile, negotiations with Russia over technology transfer issues had shelved the 1,000 tank indigenous production goal, leaving only the 2 firm production agreements. The Arjun project has continued to fade, however, with the Indian Army announcing in July 2008 that production would be capped at just 124 tanks. As the final act in the battle for the core of India’s future tank force, recent reports indicate that the Russians have removed their technology transfer roadblocks, clearing the way for fully indigenous T-90S production in India…
- The T-90 in India: Directions and Delays
- Updates and Key Events