NEW DELHI – Russia will help India produce additional batches of the already proven T-90 tanks, the Kremlin reported amid reports that New Delhi is eyeing the purchase of nearly 500 battle tanks. According to military journalists like Shiv Aroor , they are required in light of the increased tensions with Pakistan, and are critical for deployment in the areas of Punjab and Rajasthan.
Moscow “is ready to extend the license [to mount the T-90] and increase production of T-90 tanks,” a spokesman for a government agency in charge of the arms trade said.
The Indian government, the official continued, “has decided to buy extra tanks for the national Armed Forces.”
Last Monday, it emerged that the Cabinet of India (CCS) Security Committee approved a $1.93 billion deal to acquire 464 T-90MS battle tanks (MBTs), according to Jane’s Defense Weekly. In the coming months, defense ministries in India and Russia will sign a relevant contract, sources told the site.
The T-90MS is the latest upgrade to the T-90 family of classic tanks. Its maker, Uralvagonzavod, says the MS version has better protection, improved mobility and improved electronic systems. The most notable distinction is the extended tower of the tank, which provides storage for additional rounds and better protects the crew.
India is the largest foreign operator of the T-90, with 1,650 tanks estimated to be in military service since the early 2000s. Most of them were mounted at the Heavy Vehicle Plant (HVF) of India under Russian license.
New Delhi has relied on Soviet and Russian weapons for decades, whether small arms or fighter jets and naval vessels. Lately, India and Russia have signed a series of arms agreements covering a wide range of weapon systems.
Last year, India agreed to a $5.43 billion contract to buy five advanced S-400 air defense systems, defying threats of potential sanctions from Washington. In addition, it has been reported that Russia will lease an Akula-class ballistic missile submarine for the Indian Navy to help eliminate a similar submarine ship by 2025.
India’s Ordnance Factory Board (OAB) and Russia’s Kalashnikov Concern have opened a local factory licensed to produce 750,000 AK-203 – the latest update of the proven 7.62mm assault rifle. The weapon will replace the Indian Army’s standard issuing rifle, the INSAS.
The Indian Army needs additional tanks to be sent to Punjab and Rajasthan, both states bordering Pakistan, military journalist Shiv Aroor said. The military “have long stated the need for faster supplies,” as the Heavy Vehicle Factory can not mount the T-90 from imported kits at the required pace.
Although US manufacturers have done “very well” in the last decade and a half in the Indian defense market, Russia strives to obtain high value contracts “in which the US does not participate,” he added.