Army’s armoured vehicles get the long overdue upgrades
With the T-90S/SK spearheading the Indian Army vehicles, produced under license by the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), so far 1,250 tanks have been inducted into the Indian Army. The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has also cleared the procurement of 464 T-90MS which again will be produced by the OFB under technology transfer. The Indian Army envisages new upgrades to keep the T-90 relevant in the eyes of emerging threats.
The central part of the upgrade would be to equip the T-90S with an improved modular power pack (engine and transmission) with an output of between 1200 and 1500hp variable according to mission requirements. IRDE has developed a day/night thermal imaging sight, this will be non-panoramic but when mounted on the existing rotating copulas of the T-90S they cover a 360 degree arc not taking into account the LOS blind spots/obstructions. The older fire control computer will be replaced by the new Fire Control Computer made by TATA SED. A new TI fusion sight for the driver is also being looked at.
High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL) of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA) which has a higher explosive capacity than the earlier ERA; hence it has improved protection. The increased engine power will facilitate mounting of additional ERA to the sides of the turret and tank skirts. The Indian Army is also looking to equip the T-90S with Active Protection System (APS); the APS will have an early warning sensor like Laser Warning Receiver, Millimeter wave radar to deploy soft kill countermeasures like smoke grenades or hard-kill projectiles. Tata SED has tied up with SAAB to produce the LEDS 150 MK2 for the programme and showcased a T-90 model at the DefExpo-2016.
The other important issues with existing T-90S are the heat induced failures of electronics and lack of independent on-board power generation for all the additional electronics and electrical equipment. The long elusive procurement of Environmental Control Units for the T-90 is expected to attain a push - this will drastically improve crew comfort and reduce electronics failure due to heat. An Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) a diesel generator to produce additional power is also to be procured.
The OFB has been unable to produce ammunition for the T-90 and the existing T-72 stocks are unsuitable for the T-90, the government thus proceeded to import ammunition from Russia and then later have it produced by the OFB. The army wants to replace the existing INVAR with a new third generation canon launched guided missile.
The new T-90 will have better protection on the turret glacis and skirts with the Relikt ERA, external turret storage for ammunition outside the carousal to reduce the risk of a cook off. The commander is equipped with a new panoramic sight, firepower improved by the upgraded 125mm gun and a new muzzle reference system, a new fire control system. A new 1130hp engine and an APU provide very good mobility and power generation.
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