Industrial entities will reap dividends from the upcoming major upgrade projects
Prasun K. Sengupta
It was in the Seventies that saw the origins of the recently-announced Chennai-Bengaluru defence industrial corridor, when the ministry of defence-owned Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF) at Avadi in Tamil Nadu commenced the licenced-production of Vickers Mk.1 (Vijayanta) main battle tanks (MBT). Since then, several hundred small-/medium-scale industrial entities have sprung up in the stretch from Chennai to Bengaluru, passing through Trichy, Coimbatore, Salem and Hosur, which in the Eighties diversified to service the needs of India’s sprawling automobile and two-wheeler production industries. And in the years to come these very industrial entities will reap the whirlwind from the big-ticket armoured vehicle ‘deep upgrade’ projects now on the anvil, which run into several thousand vehicles and involve the retrofitting of new powerpacks, new-generation armour, automotive sub-systems, fire-control systems and communications systems. Today, if the indigenous content of armoured vehicles like the T-72/T-90S MBTs and BMP-2 infantry combat vehicles (ICV) is 95 per cent/73.8 per cent and 96.5 per cent respectively, it is because of these MEMEs located at this industrial corridor.
Presently, there are 71 Armoured Regiments equipped with 2,418 T-72s (comprising 754 T-72Ms and 1,664 T-72M-1982) and close to 900 Ob’yekt 188S T-90S. The Indian Army plans to upgrade 1,000 T-72s (each costing Rs 9 crore) with the following:
- Installation of V92S2 engine at a per-unit cost of Rs 3.5 crore, which will cause the T-72’s power-to-weight ratio to go up to 21.7 hp/tonne
- Fitment of ERA Mk.2 explosive reactive armour tiles on the hull and turret of each upgraded T-72
- Thermal Imaging Fire Control Systems (TIFCS) imported from Israel’s ELBIT Systems at a per-unit cost of Rs 2 crore
- Panoramic thermal imaging sights each costing Rs 0.8 crore to provide tank commanders with night vision
- An auxillary power unit costing Rs 0.20 crore to generate power for the on-board electrical systems
Similarly, the first 310 T-90S MBTs are up for a mid-life upgrade as well, with the principal fitments being a new-generation active protection system and an uprated powerpack for which the A85-3AX-diesel engine capable of producing up to 1,500hp (although it is presently downrated at 1,350hp) is likely to be ordered from Russia’s Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant, located about 350km south of Nizhny Tagil. This in turn will result in the T-90S’ power-to-weight ratio being hiked to 24 hp/tonne.
Similar plans are afoot for upgrading the 14.3-tonne BMP-1/2 ‘Sarath’ tracked ICV. The first 700 BMP-2s were ordered off-the-shelf in 1984 from the Soviet Union and were delivered by Kurganmashzavod JSC between 1987 and 1991. An additional 1,000 BMP-2s were ordered in 1985, these being licence-produced in India between 1992 and 2003 at the OFB’s Medak-based facility in Telengana. Yet another 123 BMP-2K ICVs were ordered in 2006 from Russia and were delivered between 2007 and 2008. Another 289 BMP-2Ks — ordered in 2009 and 2011 — have also been delivered by OFB Medak. In October 2014 the MoD gave its nod to OFB Medak to produce 362 more BMP-2s, including 116 NAMICA-2 vehicles, while on February 20 approval was accorded for procuring a further 156 ICVs worth Rs 1,125 crore. More than 1,000 BMP-2s are slated for undergoing ‘deep upgrades’ that will include the replacement of their existing 300hp, six-cylinder, 16 litre UTD-20 diesel engines being replaced by a 400hp powerpack.
The Indian Army’s 118 yet-to-be-ordered 68.6-tonne Arjun Mk.2 MBTs are each powered by a 1,400hp MTU-838KA 501 diesel engine and the MBT has a power-to-weight ratio of 18hp/tonne. The 58.5-tonne Arjun Mk.1 MBTs (124 in service) are each powered by a 1,400hp MTU-838KA 501 diesel engine that gives a power-to-weight ratio of 21hp/tonne. The 46-tonne T-90S (Ob’yekt 188S) are each powered by a 1,000hp V-92S2 diesel engine that deliver a power-to-weight ratio of 21.5 hp/tonne. The 41.5-tonne T-72M-1982 (Ob’yekt 172M-E6), each powered by a 840hp V-46-6 diesel engine, has a power-to-weight ratio of 18.8 hp/tonne. The 37-tonne T-72Ms (Ob’yekt 172M-E4) are each powered by a V-84M 780hp diesel engine that offer a power-to-weight ratio of 20 hp/tonne.
The Pakistan Army’s 47-tonne Al Khalid MBT is powered by a 1,200hp 6TD-2 diesel engine that delivers a power-to-weight ratio is 25 hp/tonne. The 46-tonne Ob’yekt 478BE T-80UD MBTs, each powered by a 1,000hp 6TD-1 diesel engine, has a power-to-weight ratio is 21.7 hp/tonne. The 42.7-tonne Al Zarrar, powered by a 730hp diesel engine, has a power-to-weight ratio is 17.1 hp/tonne. The 41.5-tonne Type 85IIAP comes powered by a 730hp diesel engine that offers a power-to-weight ratio is 17.8 hp/tonne. The 36.7-tonne Type 69IIAP, powered by a 580hp diesel engine, has a power-to-weight ratio is 15.8 hp/tone.
The PLA Army’s 42.8-tonne Type 96A MBTs are each powered by a 800hp engine that deliver a power-to-weight ratio of 18.7 hp/tonne, while the 52-tonne Type 96Bs are each powered by a 1,10000hp engine that deliver a power-to-weight ratio of 25 hp/tonne.