Why Indian Army is Holding-up Procurement of T-14 Armata Tanks ?

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Armata T-14 needs no introduction. It has ruffled a few feathers in the West. In response to the Armata, German Rheinmetall AG has developed a new 130mm L/51 tank gun, claiming it provides a 50 percent increase in armor penetration over the 120mm L/55 in service with the Bundeswehr. Germany and France have joined forces to develop an unspecified ‘main ground combat system’ (MGCS) to compete with the technological advances of the Armata and replace both the Leclerc and Leopard 2 MBTs around 2030. USA too this year launched upgraded Abram M1A2 SEP V3.

But then upgrades of Armata T-14 are also already underway. Plans are to equip it with a 152mm gun. So it is a never-ending saga.

⏩India’s case of Armata T-14:

🔛1.The Armata is a revolutionary design rather than a more traditional Russian evolutionary design. In other words, it has numerous new technologies coming together in one design, each of which has risks associated with its development. The more new technologies then the more overall development risks for the Armata. This is in contrast to a more evolutionary upgrade like those being made to the T90, upgrades which involve much reduced risk to the expectation of the new tank being available on a certain date, at a certain cost.

🔛2. Secondly, Armata is not for sale yet, especially not with tech transfers/full building cycle licenses India wants these days. It’ll be at least a decade before T-14 will be available.

🔛3. Potential adversaries of India are China and Pakistan – so as long as new technology is not available to them, India can afford to invest in other more urgent weapon systems.

🔛4. Moreover in India plans are already underway to upgrade T-90S Bhishma to T-90MS. Given its smaller size and lighter weight T-90MS would be more suitable for mountainous warfare and urban warfare (congested streets) as compared to T-14 Armata. The actual weight of Armata in a Russian article that we accessed is cited to be close to 60 tonns and not 48 tonns as mentioned in this image.

🔛5. Saab LEDS-150 hard and soft kill active protection system is already in service with T-90S Bishma. Along with its Shtora-1 active protection system (minus the IR dazzler), the upgraded T-90MS would be more difficult to kill with current ATGMs or even tungsten APFSDS.

🔛6. A turbocharged 1,000hp engine powers the 90S using a traditional transmission system. However, in the Russian upgraded 90MS, a much more powerful turbocharged 1,130hp engine (23.5hp/ton) with automatic transmission has been chosen. Indian Army is muling to use a modular engine with 1200-1500hp. The automatic transmission has more power than a manual system albeit at the marginal expense of fuel. At high altitudes, the T-90MS would not struggle as much from the lack of oxygen compared to older Pakistani tanks or even newer Chinese Type-96A tanks, effectively allowing us to bring armoured forces to places our rivals struggle to send equivalent forces to.

🔛7. Currently, the T-90S tanks are equipped with a laser guided INVAR missile system and the Indian Army has decided to replace them with a third generation gun-launched missiles. The missiles to be fired from 125mm gun should achieve a Depth of Penetration of 800-850 mm and will be capable of hitting targets up to a range of 8 KM in day as well as night. By comparison, as and when T-14 Armata is fitted with 152mm gun, it will be able to achieve a DoP of 1 metre.

🔛8. One disadvantage of T-90S was that crew was not completely isolated from stored ammunition as is the case with T-14 Armata. This puts them at a risk in case of burst-up. But in upgraded T-90MS ammunition hull storage has been removed to bustle for isolation. Though safer, the odd design with the T-90MS’ turret means that the rounds in the bustle can only be conveniently accessed from the outside. After firing the 22 rounds on the carousel, the crew will need to exit the tank to retrieve ammunition from the top of the bustle. But this much of disadvantage will have to be borne with considering T-90MS is an upgrade and not an entirely new design.

🔛9. Gunner sight has been improved in T-90S Bhishma from earlier 60 degree. In fact, Commander sight has been improved to almost 360 degree. So India can do presently with more cost-effective upgrades of T-90S to T-90MS instead of investing in a riskier venture.

🔛10. A cherry on top, India also has plans to develop its own indigenous tank with M-14 Armata as prototype.

( Graphics : Mike Faille, Andrew Barr/National Post ; Canadian Department of Defence, Graphic News, Associated Press )

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