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Future guardians of India's borders: Behind the armor of Russian-designed T-90 tanks

Future guardians of India's borders: Behind the armor of Russian-designed T-90 tanks
The Indian Armed Forces are to be reinforced by more than 460 cutting-edge Russian-designed T-90 tanks in the near future. RT takes a closer look at what the advanced war machine has in store.

The Indian Army is expected to purchase 464 upgraded T-90 'Bhishma' main battle tanks between 2022 and 2026, the Times of India reporter citing sources within the Defense Ministry. The military hardware acquired under the $1.93 billion contract will be deployed to India’s border with Pakistan to enhance its “shock and awe” capabilities.

The tanks will be assembled at the Avadi Heavy Vehicle Factory (HVF) from prefabricated parts supplied by Russia. Moscow has extended the manufacturing license for New Delhi in early April. The Indian Army already has around 1,070 T-90 tanks as well as 2,400 older T-72 tanks and 124 domestic ‘Arjun’ models in its 67 armor regiments.

So, what capabilities do these new tanks have?

1. Control over battlefield in online mode

One of the core features of the new T-90 variant is its highly sophisticated control system, which allows the crew to regularly get a full picture of the situation on the battlefield.

“The data are immediately transferred between the unmanned aerial vehicles, the command structure and reconnaissance units,” military analyst Sergey Suvorov told RT, adding that all the information about the battlefield is available at the tank commander’s computer.

The new system makes it easier for a tank unit to exchange information online and adapt to the constantly changing environment as well as forms a unified information network. This new systems ideally fits India’s new strategy that involves agile integrated battle groups (IBGs) centered around the T-90 tanks, along with a mix of infantry, artillery, air defense, signals and engineers, backed by attack helicopters.

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2. Impenetrable defense

The Russian developers managed to greatly increase the tank’s defense characteristics. All manned compartments are equipped with a state-of-the-art anti-spar liner made from special cloth from aramid fiber. Tanks are also capable of surviving a head-on hit by any type of modern munition. At the same time, their radar visibility has been reduced, thus making it harder for the enemy to target T-90s.

The war machines are also outfitted with new universal explosive reactive armor systems ‘Relict’, which increase the tanks’ defense against hollow-charge and sub-caliber munitions. The new adjustments were made as the engineers studied the experience the Russian forces gained during the fighting against terrorists in Syria.

3. Guided missiles & high maneuverability

The tanks also received a brand new 125mm canon, which increase the shooting accuracy by 30 percent and effective shooting distance by 15 percent. The weapon is now capable of using a whole range of modern high-precision munitions, ranging from preprogrammed remote detonation high-explosive munitions to even guided missiles, according to the manufacturers.

Despite all these upgrades, the tank’s weight remained the same and is not expected to exceed 50 tons, making sure the war machine would still have high speed and maneuverability characteristics.

4. Howling success

T-90 is considered to be one of the most popular tanks on the international arms market. Russia has sold more than 1,500 these tanks over 20 years. Apart from India, the vehicles were also acquired by seven other nations, including Azerbaijan, Vietnam, Iraq, Syria and Uganda.

Egypt is also planning to start assembling T-90 under Russia’s license starting in late 2019. India’s neighbor and regional rival Pakistan is also discussing a deal with Moscow, which would involve purchasing some 360 such tanks.  

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