Indian Army T-90S Bhishma main battle tank
Indian Army T-90S Bhishma main battle tank

Russia and India Negotiating Upgrade of T-90S Bhishma Main Battle Tanks

TASS reported that Rosoboronexport (part of the Rostec state corporation) is holding consultations with New Dehli on upgrading India’s T-90S Bhishma main battle tanks at the Army 2021 International Military-Technical Forum. A number of modernized systems for the Indian T-90S tanks have undergone preliminary trials. Preliminary trials of several modernized systems installed on the Indian-provided tanks, have been carried out. Right now, Rosoboronexport are moving toward the final tests, following which a decision will be made on installing the modernized systems on the main battle tanks. Rosoboronexport is ready to look into the supply of the modernized T-90MS tanks to India.

In 2001, India purchased 310 T-90S tanks from Russia, of which 124 were delivered complete and 186 were to be assembled from kits delivered in various stages of completion with an emphasis on shifting production to domestic means. The T-90 was selected because it is a direct development of the T-72 that India already manufactures with 60% parts commonality with T-90, simplifying training and maintenance. India opted to acquire the T-90 in response to numerous delays in the production of its own domestically developed Arjun main battle tank, and to counter Pakistani deployment of the Ukrainian-made T-80 tanks in 1995–97. These T-90S tanks were made by Uralvagonzavod and the engines were delivered by Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant.

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Indian Army T-90S Bhishma Main Battle Tanks
Indian Army T-90S Bhishma Main Battle Tanks

The T-90S Bhishma (named after the guardian warrior in the Mahabharata) is a vehicle tailored for Indian service, improving upon the T-90S, and developed with assistance from Russia and France. The tanks are equipped with the French Thales-built Catherine-FC thermal sights, and use Russian Kontakt-5 K-5 explosive reactive armoured plates. and Kontakt-5 ERA in addition to the primary armor which consists of laminated plates and ceramic layers with high tensile properties. The new welded turrets first developed for the T-90S Bhishma have more advanced armour protection than the early cast turrets. A follow-on contract, worth $800 million, was signed on October 26, 2006, for another 330 T-90S “Bhishma” MBTs that were to be manufactured in India by Heavy Vehicles Factory at Avadi, Tamil Nadu.

In April 2008, the Indian Army sent a request for proposal to Rafael, BAE Systems, Raytheon, Rosoboronexport, Saab, and IBD Deisenroth Engineering for an active protection system for the T-90S Bhishma. Saab’s LEDS-150 won the contract in January 2009. A third contract, worth $1.23 billion, was signed in December 2007 for 347 upgraded T-90Ms, the bulk of which will be licence-assembled by HVF. The Indian Army would begin receiving its first T-90M main battle tank in completely knocked-down condition from Russia’s Nizhny Tagil-based Uralvagonzavod JSC by the end of 2009. The first batch of 10 licence built T-90M was inducted into the Indian army on August 24, 2009. These vehicles were built at the Heavy Vehicles Factory at Avadi, Tamil Nadu.

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