Skip to comments.Ukraine to implement long-delayed upgrades of Indian army T-72 MBTs
Posted on 11/29/2001 8:19:58 PM PST by American_Patriot_For_Democracy
The Indian government's decision in June this year passing a $500 million upgrade of 300 T-72 Soviet-origin main battle tanks (MBTs) of the Indian army is finally being implemented.
And it is a bargain. The Kharkiv Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau (KMDB) of Ukraine has offered to modernise the entire 2,000-strong fleet of T-72s at approximately 25 per cent the cost that the Indian government paid for 310 T-90 tanks that it had contracted from Russia in December 2000.
In a presentation made last month in India, the Ukrainian defence team is understood to have offered to upgrade 300 of the T-72s over a period of five years (at the rate of 60 tanks per year) to bring about the following improvements: upgraded 125 mm guns; engine improvements to increase horsepower from 850 to 1,000; better land navigation systems; nuclear, biological and chemical protection equipment; laser warning systems; thermal imaging systems; night vision devices; and frequency-hopping radios.
An unspecified number of the T-72s are also to be equipped with "Arena", a state-of-the-art Russian defensive aid suite that mounts a multidirectional millimetre wave radar system on a tank's turret to detect incoming missiles.
An official of the KMDB claimed that the modernisation package offered by Ukraine would match all the important features of the Russian T-90 tanks.
The Ukrainian KMDB builders of the T-34 tanks (of World War II vintage) have also designed and built the T54/55 and the T-59/69, besides T-64 tanks, the immediate predecessor of the T-72. The latest MBT developed by the company was the T-84, which was accepted for service by the Ukrainian Army in 1999.
The company's "superior claims" for the Indian contract rests on this argument: that the T-90s would have been even more identical to the T-72s had the designers not substantially adopted some of the advanced features of the T-80 series of tanks (designed and developed by the KMDB). These features are said to relate to the areas of defensive aids systems and the fire control and explosive reactor armour systems.
The Indian defence establishment has also begun sorting out proposals received from various subcontractors for the T-72 upgrade. Three companies have made a bid for a contract for the improvement of the fire control system: PCO-Cenzin of Poland, El-Op Electro-Optics Industries Limited of Israel, and Thales of Paris. Kerametal of Poland is angling for the power plant contract. The companies that want to sell land navigation systems are Israel's IAI Electronic Group, the German LITEF GmbH and the South African Reutech Defence Limited. In the race for the supply of radio sets are GEC Marconi Electro-Optics of the United Kingdom and Tadiran Limited of Israel. The firms shortlisted by the Indian government for thermal imaging systems for the tanks include Israel Military Industries, the UK's AVIMO and Thales of France.
There are plans that the modification of the gun control systems of the T-72 tanks would be undertaken jointly by the state-owned Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) and the Electronic Corporation of India Limited (ECIL). The night vision devices are to be supplied by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL). The upgrades, meantime, are to be carried out at the state-owned Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF) at Avadi in Tamil Nadu.
For lack of funds, the T-72 upgrade programme has been hanging fire since 1991, when the Indian army first put up a demand. A certain urgency arose regarding these plans following the acquisition of 320 T-80 UDs by Pakistan between 1997 and 1999. Latest reports are that Pakistani-built Al Khalid MBTs are also set to enter series production.
India has an inventory of about 2,000 T-72s, 1,500 of which had been purchased from the erstwhile Soviet Union between 1970 and 1985. The remaining numbers were built under licence in India.
A senior services official said that that improvements in the T-72s have been conceived to provide them a new life, which will also allow the Indian army to phase out the less capable Vijayanta and T-55 tanks by 2010. Within the Indian, there is even a view that the T-72 upgrade plan ought to have taken precedence over the T-90 purchase deal: the former would have been a cost-effective option.
The Indian Army is going to upgrade from early 1970's technology to late 1980's technology.
Well, I suppose it will be interesting for them to be able to actually watch the missiles that will be raining down on them with their new radar system.
At least that will time to utter "Oh S***" in whatever dialect they happen to be speaking at the time.
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