Army plans Rs 57,000 crore project to replace T-72 tanks with modern combat vehicles

In response to reports about the death of tanks, the Indian Army, with a strength of 12 lakhs, is preparing for a significant upgrade of its current tanks and the induction of new-generation tanks for future battles.

In a TOI report, senior officers have stated that the extensive destruction of Russian tanks in the ongoing Ukraine conflict, primarily in the initial days, was more due to “poor tactics” than anything else. They noted that Russia deployed tanks without adequate logistics support and failed to provide sufficient backup from infantry, artillery, electronic warfare, and close-air support units.

According to a senior officer, “Combined-arms operations” were critical and missing in the conflict. Tanks remain essential for both offensive and defensive operations, offering mobility, firepower, and armored protection crucial for large-scale ground battles.

“The critical ‘combined-arms operations’ were missing. Tanks remain relevant for both offensive and defensive operations. There is no other platform that provides requisite mobility, firepower and armoured protection in large-scale ground battles,” a senior officer said.

“Our future tank projects are being planned with enhanced survivability, especially against aerial threats, as well as connectivity. Requisite anti-drone safeguards will ensure both individual tank protection as well as area protection for force survivability,” he added.

The Army intends to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) this year for a mega project worth an estimated Rs 57,000 crores. The project aims to produce 1,770 Future Ready Combat Vehicles (FRCVs) in India to replace the old Russian-origin T-72 tanks starting from 2030.”The FRCVs will have niche technologies to include AI (artificial intelligence), drone integration, active protection system, high degree of situational awareness and manned-unmanned teaming capability. It will be able to synergise and integrate with all elements of land and air in a network-centric environment,” another officer said.The FRCVs will feature advanced technologies, including AI, drone integration, active protection systems, and high situational awareness. They will also have the capability for manned-unmanned teaming and seamless integration with land and air elements in a network-centric environment.

Additionally, the Army has so far inducted 1,200 T-90S ‘Bhishma’ tanks, and this year, it will introduce the first five of the 118 indigenous Arjun Mark-1A tanks. These tanks have undergone 14 major and 57 minor upgrades to enhance firepower, mobility, endurance, and protection.

“After DRDO completes its internal trials of the light tank prototypes, they will be offered to the Army for summer and winter trials, which will take a couple of years,” an official said.

Moreover, the Army plans to induct 354 indigenous light tanks under Project Zorawar for around Rs 17,500 crores. These tanks are designed for high-altitude warfare and have a weight of less than 25 tonnes, superior firepower, and protection.

“T-72s are also getting thermal sights, fire detection and suppression, and other systems. The T-90S tanks, in turn, are getting automatic target trackers, digital ballistic computers and commander thermal imagers,” the officer said.

“The FRCVs will be inducted in three phases, with 590 in the first one. Each phase will see induction of newer technologies to ensure the highest level of survivability, lethality and agility. Tanks, by no means, are dead,” he added.

The Army is also implementing various upgrade plans. It has received approval from the defense ministry to induct 1000-horsepower engines for its T-72 fleet, replacing the existing 780 hp engines. Additionally, the T-72s are being equipped with thermal sights, fire detection and suppression systems, while the T-90S tanks are getting automatic target trackers, digital ballistic computers, and commander thermal imagers.

The FRCVs will be inducted in three phases, with 590 units in the first phase. Each phase will introduce newer technologies to ensure the highest levels of survivability, lethality, and agility.

(With inputs from TOI)

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