Posted 07/17/06 13:34Print this story India To Build 1,000 T-90 Tanks
By VIVEK RAGHUVANSHI, NEW DELHI
India’s state-owned Ordnance Factories Board (OFB) has garnered its largest order to date: a $2.5 billion deal to produce 1,000 T-90 tanks for the Indian Army.
The order will be carried out in phases; the first 300-tank phase began last month, said a senior official of the board, which administers India’s 39 ordnance factories.
The official said the Army would order the remaining 700 tanks after the first batch is completed, likely by 2010.
The work will take place at ordnance factories at Medak in Andhra Pradesh state and at the Avadhi Heavy Vehicles factory in Tamil Nadu state, in southern India.
India already has received 310 T-90s through a 2001 agreement with Russia that delivered 124 tanks and kits for 186 more for assembly at Avadhi. The first locally assembled T-90 rolled out in January 2004, and the entire order has since been completed.
OFB Chairman Pradip Kumar Misra said that program created enough infrastructure at the Medak and Avadhi ordnance factories to enable indigenous production. Initially, 70 percent of the parts will be made in India, rising to 95 percent by 2010, Misra said.
One official said there have been “technical problems” with some components of the T-90s assembled at Avadhi, which will be fixed for indigenous production. Other Army sources said problems with the thermal imaging device hurts troop visibility at night.
The OFB official said all problems would be fixed during production by importing better components from overseas markets.
The Army needs the 1,000 T-90s to offset a shortage of tanks expected in the next two to three years, said the Army official. Nearly half of the current fleet of 3,200 tanks are to be scrapped by 2008.
The Army has decided to scrap all 800 Vijayanta tanks, which have been in service since 1966.
Other tanks slated for scrap by 2008 include about 500 T-55s. Some 400 T-72s may be scrapped or upgraded.
The Army has ordered 124 Arjun tanks from the Avadhi ordnance factory, but has yet to induct the five Arjuns produced so far due to technical snags.
The T-90 is replacing India’s Russian T-72 tanks in response to Pakistan’s purchase of T-80 tanks from Ukraine, said an Indian Army official. •
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