|Arthur Dominic Villasanta |||Nov 10, 2016 12:36 AM EST|
(Photo : Indian Army) Russian-made Indian Army T-90S tanks on parade.
The Indian government has approved a request by the Indian Army for the purchase of 464 T-90 main battle tanks from Russia at a cost of more than $2.1 billion. The T-90 is the premier battle tank of the Indian Army, which plans to have over 2,000 of these machines by 2020.
The government's Defense Acquisition Council led by Minister of Defense Manohar Parrikar has given the deal the green light. Military observers said the fast tracked request sends a signal to both Pakistan and its ally, China, that the Indian Army will do whatever it takes to modernize its armored forces.
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The tanks will mostly be manufactured at the Ordnance Factory Boards, which has also produced other Russian tanks such as the T-72. The T-90, currently the most modern tank in the Russian Ground Forces, will replace the Army's ageing fleet of T-72s.
The Army already plans to deploy some 1,650 T-90M and T-90S MBTs in most of its 97 armored regiments. Of this total, some 1,300 will be T-90Ms. It also has 350 T-90MS tanks deployed along the Line of Actual Control with China. In addition, the Army operates some 120 Arjun MK-1 MBTs, a domestically produced tank much heavier than the T-90.
The Army currently has 13 regiments operating both the T-90M and T-90S, a number that will increase to 21 regiments by 2020. One regiment consists of 62 tanks.
The exact T-90 model in the new deal wasn't disclosed by the Army, however. The Army has requested the tanks be installed with Active Protection Systems (APS).
Its existing T-90S' are equipped with Russia's Shtora electro-optical APS system and Catherine thermal imaging cameras from Thales.
The new T-90s will be a force multiplier for the Indian Army, said Brig. Gen. Gurmeet Kanwal (Ret), Distinguished Fellow, Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses.
"The new T-90s will replace the T-72 fleet of tanks. The upgraded tanks will have night fighting capabilities which are sorely needed. Overall, the tanks will act as a force multiplier when it comes to war in the plains against Pakistan."
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