Heavy Vehicle Factory Avadi (HVF Avadi) has rolled out the first overhauled T-90S Bhishma Tank on 10th November. Director General Mechanised Forces (DGMF), M J S Kahlon, AVSM was present at the roll-out ceremony along with Sanjeev Kishore, Sr GM HVF. As per the Military Balance 2019 report by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), the Indian Army has more than 1,025 T-90S tanks in its inventory. This makes India the largest operator of T-90S tanks.
This is not the first time a T-90 tank was upgraded in India. In 2019, Indian Army’s Delhi-based 505 Base Workshop had demonstrated its capability of overhauling the Russian-origin T-90S tank. It took 214 days for the workshop to master the overhauling process which is termed as a complex procedure. It was carried out at a cost of just Rs 4 crores and extended the battle tank life by 15 years. The T-90S tanks were previously overhauled in Russia and were sent via the sea route. The cost-saving as per the Indian Army was Rs 14 crores.
HVF is also benefiting from the transfer of technology (ToT) for the T-90S tank from Russia’s Nizhny Tagil-based UralVagonZavod (UVZ) which is the maker of these tanks. India had decided to purchase additional 464 T-90S tanks in 2019 in a $3.12 billion deal which includes ToT. The engine and transmission are not part of the ToT deal and will be imported from Russia. An additional license agreement to extend the previous license deal until 2028 was also signed. HVF has been licence producing T-90s and the first batch of 10 tanks were handed over to the Indian Army in August 2009
UralVagonZavod has also tied up with Punj Corporation Pvt. Ltd. for creating a Private Service Centre to undertake repair and maintenance of T-72 and T-90 tank engines and radiators in India. They have also decided to cooperate in the implementation of the “GOCO” (government-owned, contractor-operated) model for the operation of the Army Base Workshops.
India is in talks with Russia to upgrade the T-90S tanks with a digital ballistic calculator and an automatic target tracker. The Indian T-90S cannot be upgraded to T-90MS level which s a modernised version of T-90S and is of a different generation.