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Recently ordered Russian T-90MS tanks of the Indian Army will come without advanced protections systems, prompting India to weigh the acquisition of these defenses from domestic sources.
“We’re researching the possibility of a domestic company producing these active protection systems in cooperation with an overseas equipment manufacturer,” a senior defense official said.
The Indian Army wants the advanced protection systems on the 464 T-90MS tanks ordered for $2 billion in November 2016, an Indian Army official told defensenews.com.
All of the advanced defense systems that India is looking to procure, including the active defense systems, are made in Israel. The problem holding up the deal is that the Indian officials want the design and production mechanisms to be transferred to their country.
“The new active protection system is one of the most advanced in the world; India could do well to acquire it in whatever mode rather than going in for a mix-and-match approach as in the past,” says Rahul Bhonsle, a retired Indian Army brigadier and defense analyst.
The active protection system in question is a tank-mounted radar that detects the launch of an antitank missile and then engages an interceptor to destroy the incoming round or deflect its trajectory.
Until now, the tanks have been dependent mainly on the armor of their outer shells. Currently, no tank in the Indian Army has an active protection system.
The MoD official said efforts were made last year to procure advanced protection systems from the overseas market, but the Russian system was rejected on technical grounds, and the second competitor from Israel would have led to a single-vendor situation. The Indian government avoids purchasing weapons and equipment on a single-vendor basis.
India already operates around 800 T-90S tanks, first delivered by Russia in 2001.
Despite the newly ordered tanks lacking active protection systems, the Indian Army is satisfied with the purchase of the upgraded T-90MS tanks from Russia.
The new batch is equipped with thermal imaging night sights to allow the tank commander to fire at enemy locations even during night battles, the Indian Army official said.
In addition, the tank features an improved chassis and new modular turret which for the first time in Russian battle tank design history factored in better crew comfort and survivability.