What should we do with our tanks?

Question: Now that Pakistan has VT-4 tanks imported from China, what is the logical step forward for Indian armour?, upgrading the current T90 to Proryv3 standards or importing Armatas?~ Animesh Panda

While Pakistan importing VT-4 is indeed a development to be taken care of, but it’s not something which should come as a surprise to us. Pakistan was for some time looking to either import VT4 or Oplot M tanks. This came as it was proven that even after the upgrade of their Type59 fleet, their survival chances didn’t change much against their Indian counter parts and the Al Khalid production was really slow and costly as much of the work was actually assembling of CKDs from China and Ukraine.

Now coming to Indian inventory plans , we have a really large fleet of T72 and T90 tanks. And we cannot rely on just 1 program to counter the possible threats. Our approach should be multi pronged.

First and foremost, we should always try to invest funds and resources for development of the future MBT which will replace the T72s , 10 years down the line. Also should be the development of heavier Arjun Mk2 should be accelerated. These tanks will lead the IBGs across the IB in case of an all out war in future. These two programs will cover the long term purposes.

For short to medium term, comprehensive upgrade of T72 and T90 tanks should be a focus. While ERA and powerful engines are surely being taken care of, our tanks have the biggest capability hole in the form of their guns. We need to either import a contemporary gun from Russia or develop one of our own which is capable of firing longer and more powerful ammunition. The upgrade of T72 overlooked this aspect. Having a better ammo from a better guns increases the chances of our tank taking out the Pakistani adversaries in first shot much more.

The second neglected aspect is the passive or active protection systems for our tanks. Gone are the days when smoke screens are enough. Modern tanks need a minimum of 360° laser warning system as a minimum precaution.

If we take care of these two sub systems, the current fleet of T72 and T90 vehicles will remain relevant and effective against Pakistani Armour for quite some time.

The final approach which is as of yet un explored is the concept of tank destroyers. We need to invest in mechanised units with canon turrets of large bore and ATGM launch capability to support our tanks against the enemy. This is absolute necessity in today’s and coming days battlefield involving tank to tank conflicts.


  • Ankit Kumar

    An independent analyst with engineering background. Besides covering military affairs, he is also interested in space, airlines, infrastructure, nuclear, energy and related issues.

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