Army to deploy 464 upgraded Battle Tanks on LoC with Pak

Rs 13,448 cr proposal to give India strategic advantage
After CCS nod, purchase process set in motion

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, May 7: Indian Army’s strength along the Western frontiers with Pakistan especially in Jammu and Kashmir will get major boost with Government decision to clear purchase of 464 Russian-origin upgraded T-90 `Main Battle Tanks’ on the Line of Control (LoC) to meet with any eventuality on the borders.
Official sources told the Excelsior that the process for procurement of upgraded T-90 Main Battle Tanks, which have been named as ‘Bhishma’ has been set into motion by the Defence Ministry after nod to the project by the Cabinet Committee on Security. The purchases were estimated to cost Rs 13,448 crore.
“The indent to produce 464 T-90 tanks would soon be placed on the Avadi Heavy Vehicle Factory under the Ordinance Factory Board as the Cabinet Committee on Security has already cleared the project,” sources said, adding that deployment of tanks would actually be started in 2022 and could be completed around 2026.
Pakistan, according to sources, is also discussing a deal with Russia for acquiring about 360 such tanks to counter India’s strength which will increase manifold with the deployment of upgraded T-90 Main Battle Tanks on the Western frontiers especially on the LoC falling in Jammu and Kashmir.
With deployment of T-90 ‘Main Battle Tanks’, India will gain clear strategic advantage over Pakistan, sources said, adding that deployment of the tanks was aimed at boosting strength of the Indian Army in case of any eventuality with Pakistan.
The Army already has around 1,070 T-90 tanks as well as 124 ‘Arjun’ and 2,400 older T-72 tanks in its 67 armoured regiments. After the first 657 T-90 tanks were imported for Rs 8,525 crore from Russia from 2001 onwards, another 1,000 are being progressively licensed and produced by HVF with Russian kits.
“There has been some delay in the indent for the remaining 464 tanks, which will also have night-fighting capabilities. Once it is done, the first 64 tanks should be delivered in 30-41 months,” sources said.
According to sources, the Central Government’s move to equip Army with latest “war-fighting machinery” was part of “pro-active approach” to gain strategic advantage and clear upper hand over Pakistan. Indian Army’s military capabilities are already very high from Pakistan and they will further go up with induction of upgraded T-90 `Main Battle Tanks’, they said.
The move also comes at a time when the Army is re-formatting its entire war-fighting machinery including fast mobilization to strike hard across the border with multiple offensive thrusts.
Army’s new ‘Land Warfare Doctrine’ has made it clear that response along the Western borders with Pakistan will be quick and aimed at destroying adversary’s centre of gravity.
Army chief General Bipin Rawat in January had announced the new IBGs would be war-gamed in February and then tested during an exercise in May. But the ongoing tensions with Pakistan, in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack and the consequent Balakote air strikes, which led to “precautionary deployments”, have delayed execution of the plan.
According to sources, Pakistan too was planning to approach Russia for purchase of Battle Tanks to counter the Indian Army but so far it hasn’t succeeded in persuading Russians for the deal.
Pakistan, sources said, was in discussions with Pakistan to acquire 360 such tanks but their talks were in initial stages only.
It may be mentioned here that Narendra Modi-led BJP Government at the Centre has taken series of measures during last five years to meet requirements of the Army on the frontiers with Pakistan as well as China.
Apart from equipping the troops with latest weaponry and equipments, it has also taken series of measures to boost road and rail networks in the border areas to facilitate smooth movement of the troops and their machinery.