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Old 23rd July 2021, 11:38   #1
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Default Battle Tanks used by the Indian Army

Battle Tanks used by the Indian Army


India has one of the strongest armies in the world. It uses many types of vehicles for combat. Among them is the Main Battle Tank. Tanks are heavily armoured mobile platforms for land weapons. They are equipped with a large-caliber tank gun mounted in a rotating gun turret. This is supplemented by machine guns or other ranged weapons including anti-tank guided missiles or rocket launchers.

They use powerful engines and tracks. These provide good mobility on various terrains and in various conditions including mud, snow and ice, where a wheeled vehicle would not be able to perform as efficiently.

The Indian army uses various types of tanks. Let’s have a look at the various tanks that our army possesses currently.

T-72



The Russian T-72 main battle tank was produced at the Malyshev HMB Plant in Kharkov, Ukraine, and at UKBM Nizhny Tagil, Russian Federation and produced under licence in a number of countries. The T-72 first entered production in 1972 and an estimated 50,000 have been built. The T-72 has been exported to Algeria, Bulgaria, Cuba, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Finland, Hungary, India, Iran, Libya, Myanmar, North Korea, Poland, Romania, Syria and Yugoslavia.

The T-72 is powered by a V12 liquid-cooled, four-stroke multi-fuel diesel engine that develops 840 hp. It has a planetary transmission with hydraulic servo-control system, running gear with RMSH track and torsion bar suspension with hydraulic shock absorbers. The tank has a road speed of 60 km/h and 35 km/h on dry earth roads. Its range on roads with the main fuel tank is 500 km. The tank can negotiate fording depths to 1.2 m without preparation and snorkels can be fitted for fording to a depth of 5 m. It has an overall length of 6.91 m, overall height of 2.19 m and overall width of 3.58 m.

In the 1970s, the Indian Army wanted to replace its Centurion and Vijayanta main battle tanks. The Soviet-built the T-72 tank was selected after many trials. In 1978, India ordered 500 T-72, T-72M, and T-72M1 tanks directly from USSR. In the 1980s the production of the same started at Heavy Vehicles Factory, Avadi, Chennai.

There are more than 2,000 T-72 tanks (in three versions) in service in the Indian Army.

The first version is the original Soviet T-72 tank, which is called T-72M. It weighs approximately 37 tons and it had no ERA panels. The second version is an indigenous T-72 Ajeya tank. It weighs approximately 41.5 tons and differs from the Soviet T-72 tank.

Battle Tanks used by the Indian Army-ajeyareal.jpg
Image Source

The Ajeya comes in two versions:
Ajeya MK1 – This is the Indian-built version of the T-72M1, which was built at Avadi.

Ajeya MK2 – Indian version of the T-72M1 with ERA and banks of 6 smoke grenade-launchers on each side.

Indian-built T-72 Ajeya tanks are equipped with a 125 mm 2A46 smoothbore tank gun, which can fire all types of anti-tank rounds including APFSDS. The Ajeya tank also has a 12.7 mm NSV anti-aircraft machine gun. Additionally, the tank comes with a 7.62 mm PKT machine gun fitted alongside the barrel for targeting enemy infantry soldiers.

In the India China Standoff in Ladakh, the Indian Army has deployed T-72 Ajeya and T-90 tanks:
Battle Tanks used by the Indian Army-t72ajeyatankoftheindianarmymin.jpg

A short video on the T-72 tank:


Source: Guarding India, FAS

T-90



The T-90 is a third-generation Russian main battle tank. It is manufactured by Uralvagonzavod in Nizhnyi Tagil, Russia. It is a modern variation of the T-72B and comes with a 125 mm 2A46 smoothbore main gun, the 1A45T fire-control system, an upgraded engine, and gunner's thermal sight. Standard protective measures include a blend of steel and composite armour, smoke grenade dischargers, Kontakt-5 explosive-reactive armour and the Shtora infrared ATGM jamming system. It was designed and built by Uralvagonzavod, in Nizhny Tagil, Russia.

In February 2001, the Indian Army signed a contract for 310 T-90S tanks. 124 of these were built in Russia and the rest were imported as CKD kits, which would be assembled in India. India selected the T-90 as it a development of the the T-72 that India was already manufacturing. The T-72 and T-90 share 60% of their parts making it easier to maintain.

The first 42 complete Indian tanks, designated T-90S, came with older cast turrets of the early series and powered by the V-84 engine that produced 840 hp. The next year another 82 vehicles were delivered. These came with new welded turrets and the V-92S2 engine that put out 1,000 hp.

In October 2006, another contract was signed to manufacture 330 T-90S in India by Heavy Vehicles Factory at Avadi, Tamil Nadu.

Battle Tanks used by the Indian Army-45f325e687f5d8e8c00e2332eb3c70ebmin.jpg
Image Source

The T-90S has been codenamed Bhishma. It has been developed with assistance from Russia and France and equipped with the French Thales-built Catherine-FC thermal sights and Russian Kontakt-5 K-5 explosive reactive armoured plates. and Kontakt-5 ERA in addition to the primary armour which consists of laminated plates and ceramic layers with high tensile properties.

T-90S tank measures 9.63 m in length, 3.73 m in width and 2.22 m in height. It weighs around 46 tonnes. The tank is fed by automatic loader which deletes the need for a manual loader in the tank. The crew consists of 3 individuals including the commander, gunner and driver.

Battle Tanks used by the Indian Army-efew_0.jpg

In December 2007, a third contract was signed for 347 upgraded T-90M tanks. Most of these would be assembled by Heavy Vehicles Factory at Avadi, Tamil Nadu. The first batch of 10 licence built T-90M was inducted into the Indian army on August 24, 2009.

The T-90M features the 'Kaktus K-6' bolted explosive reactive armour (ERA) package on its frontal hull and turret-top (the T-90S has 'Kontakt-5' ERA), is fitted with an enhanced environmental control system supplied by Israel's Kinetics Ltd for providing cooled air to the fighting compartment, has additional internal volume for housing the cryogenic cooling systems for new-generation thermal imagers like the THALES-built Catherine-FC thermal imager (operating in the 8–12 micrometre bandwidth).

Some facts about the Bhishma tank:


Source: Defence Update, Army Recognition, National Interest

Arjun



The Arjun MK1 was developed by the Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE) of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). It was designed and developed between 1986 and 1996 and inducted into service in 2004. It carries a four-man crew including the driver, commander, loader and gunner.

The Arjun tank is powered by a single MTU multi-fuel V10 turbo-diesel engine that puts out 1,400 hp. It comes with a torque converter automatic transmission with 4 forward +2 reverse gears. The tank can hit a maximum speed of 70 km/h and can travel cross-country at a speed of 40 km/h. It has an overall length of 10.190 m, height of 3.03 m, width of 3.864 m and a combat weight of 58.5 tons.

Battle Tanks used by the Indian Army-arjun_mki_rajpath-1.jpg
Image Source

The Arjun has a 120 mm rifled main gun that can fire 8 rounds per minute. The tank also uses one PKT 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun, and a NSVT 12.7 mm machine gun. It is capable of firing several types of ammunition including indigenously developed armour-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot (APFSDS) and a dual purpose high explosive squash head (HESH). It can carry 39 APFSDS and HESH rounds in blast-proof canisters with blow out panels.

The Gunner's Main Sight consists of a day-sight, thermal sight, a laser range finder and a stabilized head common to all the three channels. The common sighting head mirror is stabilized in elevation and azimuth. The day-sight provides dual magnification. A thermal imager provides night vision facility to the gunner and the commander to observe and engage target in total darkness and in the presence of smoke, dust, haze and light camouflage. Integral with the main sight is the laser range finder by which targets can be ranged accurately.

Source: DRDO

Battle Tanks used by the Indian Army-vijy9268783822.jpg
Image Source

The Arjun MK1A is a new version of Arjun tank. It features 14 major upgrades on Arjun MBT Mk I. It has a completely redesigned turret. The major upgrades over the MK1 include improved Kanchan armour, ERA, NERA for protection, integration of gun-launched SAMHO ATGM, gunner's main sight integrated with automatic target tracking system, commander's panoramic sight (CPS MK-II) with laser rangefinder and dual magnification day sight and uncooled thermal sight interfaced with the FCS for hunter killer capability, driver's uncooled sight system with binocular vision, remote controlled weapon station, track width mine plough, containerized ammunition bin with individual shutter (CABIS) for crew safety, advanced land navigation system, new auxiliary power unit with double power generation capacity, redesigned hydropneumatic suspension system with new advanced running gear system (ARGS) to enhance agility etc. It features 54.3% indeginous content against the 41% in the earlier model.

A short video on the Arjun MBT:


Source: DRDO, Drishtiias

Last edited by Aditya : 23rd July 2021 at 12:06.
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Old 23rd July 2021, 11:39   #2
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Old 23rd July 2021, 13:15   #3
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Default Re: Battle Tanks used by the Indian Army

One thing Indian tanks need (based on information available in Public Domain) is APS systems like the Israeli Trophy or Russian Afghanit.
With ECM and ECCM being a constant race, and also vulnerable to espionage, APS systems can provide excellent protection to tanks.

Also, not sure if India uses DU rounds in its APFSDS penetrators. Use of DU heavily increases penetration and power of these rounds.
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Old 23rd July 2021, 15:36   #4
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Default Re: Battle Tanks used by the Indian Army

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aditya View Post
The T-90S has been codenamed Bhishma.
I'd say "Christened" rather than codenamed. It isn't a code-name per se.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aditya View Post
The Arjun has a 120 mm rifled main gun that can fire 8 rounds per minute.
Over and above its very good crew comfort, armour protection & other features - I believe the 120mm Rifled main gun has to be one of the unique features of the Arjun. Only the Arjun and the Challenger2 sport such a gun amongst contemporaries. All others have opted for smoothbores, including the one on the Abrams & Leopard2.

I remember there were quite tricky situations in the Arjun integration. The cannon's feeding end angle inside the crew compartment was such that the standard ammo rounds couldn't be loaded when the gun was pointing high up! ARDE Pune had developed a new explosive charge for the rounds - which was more compact than standard designs yet had same energy output. It resulted in the rounds being much shorter than existing rounds, thus enabling the gun integration as per existing design, ensuring the lower profile remained.

Then there were issues about the existing train rakes not being able to carry the Arjun thanks to its dimensions.

Overcoming challenges literally in everything - this really is a fine piece of engineering. I hope it sees a long and illustrious career with our armed forces.
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Old 23rd July 2021, 18:44   #5
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Thank you for this marvelous thread. Love it. Will need to sit at ease and read it and view it a second time. Thank you for the time & effort you have invested. Would love to hear the thoughts of the ex-Army members.

While due to delays in Arjun's development & deployment we invested in the innovative T-72 and then the powerful T-90 I believe, basis my limited knowledge, that a crew of 4 (the 4th being a loader) has many advantages over a crew of 3 with the loading automated. The benefits being less engineering complexity in the already cramped confines of a turret, safety against an internal explosion, ability to store the unused rounds behind armoured walls and one extra hand for all the dozen tasks of maintenance, cleaning, re-arming, re-fueling and upkeep to be done when not actually fighting. But the Army members can opine better. My views are uneducated.

The rifled 120mm is said to be more accurate than a smooth bore and that is why we picked it though smooth bores are more in fashion today. Smooth bores with their APFSDS & HEAT rounds are more focused on tank-on-tank kills. While a rifled round with its mix of APFSDS, HEAT and HESH rounds is more versatile being also able to tackle fortifications, buildings, bunkers, etc. It all boils down to your combat doctrine.

Look forward to reading & writing on this thread on the Queen of the land battle.

Last edited by V.Narayan : 23rd July 2021 at 18:46.
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Old 23rd July 2021, 19:42   #6
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Thanks for this amazing thread. I had a chance to ride onboard a T-55 sometime in the last decade when I was visiting Jaisalmer. The power of the tank has to experienced - the words do not do justice to what's on offer.

Look forward to experiences of others with these mean machines.

T
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Old 23rd July 2021, 20:02   #7
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Default Re: Battle Tanks used by the Indian Army

I read the Indian Army is none too enthusiastic about the Arjun because of it's odd size, which makes it unsuitable for the railway tank transport wagons the Army uses to move tanks to far off places. They can't accommodate the Arjun. Ditto with many bridges too, because of it's weight, it seems. They seem to have been pushed on the Army, who plan to use them only in the desert.
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Old 23rd July 2021, 21:25   #8
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Originally Posted by Gansan View Post
I read the Indian Army is none too enthusiastic about the Arjun because of it's odd size,
Permit me to disagree. It is not an odd size. In fact for todays armour requirements it is the right size & weight. Compare its size and weight to the American Abrams or French Leclerc or German Leopard-II.
Quote:
which makes it unsuitable for the railway tank transport wagons the Army uses to move tanks to far off places. They can't accommodate the Arjun. Ditto with many bridges too, because of it's weight, it seems.
This was taken into account at the concept & design stage. Surely you don't think the Army is that stupid as to not take into account rail width and bridge strengths. Those items are like spec nos 1 in tank design.
Quote:
They seem to have been pushed on the Army, who plan to use them only in the desert.
The tank has been designed to the Army's specifications. Yes it has taken a long time to develop and that is because we decided (as with Tejas) to develop every technology from scratch ourselves - typical DRDO arrogance. But now after a long time we have a machine that is maturing to the right kind.
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Old 24th July 2021, 00:02   #9
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T-90



The T-90 is a third-generation Russian main battle tank.
Tank generations are an interesting topic and there is some food for thought there.
I feel T-90 is 4th Gen if you look at previous generations/iterations of Main Battle Tanks from a Russian/world and tank technology and development perspective.
1st Gen: Legendary T-34 which swung the tide of WW2, with sloped armour to reduce weight which was a great advantage in the snow and slush yet provide good armour protection (although the concept of MBT was not there at that time)
2nd Gen: T-54/55 and T-62
3rd Gen: T-72, and T-80/T-84
4th Gen: T-90
5th Gen: Armata
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Old 24th July 2021, 00:32   #10
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Thank you Aditya for an informative and interesting thread. Enjoyed the pictures too.

Queries for experts / those who have more knowledge:
  1. So far, I only knew "Tank". Here I read the term "Main Battle Tank". So, are there any tanks which aren't primarily designed for the "main battle"?
  2. V12 engine producing more than 500 kW. Wow. Do we make this engine or do we import it totally? If we make this, then who manufacturers the engines?
  3. Do the tank engines need to comply with emmision norms?
  4. Do we still need multi fuel engines today? In case we run out of diesel at the front, are we likely to have any substitute fuel in required quantities? What will it be?
  5. If anyone knows, how are these engines different compared to modern diesel engines (apart from being multi fuel)? I mean, do they have different valve train, lubrication circuit, cooling circuit or fuel system? Are they simpler compared to modern diesel engines of similar power rating?
  6. I never thought that the tanks will have suspension. From whatever little I could see from outside (that too, rarely), it looks that you have tracks, driven by the driving drums mounted directly on the body. What exactly is the role of suspension in the tanks?

Last edited by Rahul Bhalgat : 24th July 2021 at 00:35.
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Old 24th July 2021, 01:31   #11
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Originally Posted by Rahul Bhalgat View Post
Queries for experts / those who have more knowledge:
Not an expert, but more like an enthusiast here so I will take a stab at few of the questions.
Quote:
  1. So far, I only knew "Tank". Here I read the term "Main Battle Tank". So, are there any tanks which aren't primarily designed for the "main battle"?
  1. Some types non-Main Battle Tanks, which play a supporting role.
    1. Bridge Laying Tank: https://www.drdo.gov.in/bridge-layer-tank-blt-t-72
    2. APCs/Converted from Tanks: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/IDF_Achzarit / https://defenceview.in/israel-surpri...sonal-carrier/
    3. SPGs: Mobile Artillery on Tank chassis e.g. http://www.military-today.com/artill...n_catapult.htm
    P.S. Even modern APCs like BMP, BTR, Strykers can be loosely called tanks even though some of these are wheeled and not tracked.

    Quote:
  2. V12 engine producing more than 500 kW. Wow. Do we make this engine or do we import it totally? If we make this, then who manufacturers the engines?
  3. India primarily imports and possibly also license builds engines, but is working on developing an engine as well.
    BEML is developing the new engine. Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE) makes transmissions.
    Quote:
  4. Do the tank engines need to comply with emmision norms?
  5. Sorry sir, but I am not sure if you are serious here, or are kidding.
    Tanks return a mileage of 1.50-3.00 kmpl depending upon the weight of the tank and terrain, and are designed for war-fighting and power. Moreover, they are not subject to MVA or RTO rules. So I don't think emission is at the top of tank designers' minds.

    Quote:
  6. Do we still need multi fuel India imports and license builds engines, but is working on developing and engine as well.engines today? In case we run out of diesel at the front, are we likely to have any substitute fuel in required quantities? What will it be?
  7. Tanks can run on Diesel, ATF/JP-8 or even kerosene (T-72). This versatility is of good use, specially kerosene in India's case.

    Quote:
  8. I never thought that the tanks will have suspension. From whatever little I could see from outside (that too, rarely), it looks that you have tracks, driven by the driving drums mounted directly on the body. What exactly is the role of suspension in the tanks?
Leaving aside crew comfort, a good suspension is critical to provide a stable firing platform for the Fire Control System and Computer of the main gun to increase accuracy. Let's not forget that tanks have to fire at targets 4-5 km away while manoeuvring over any type of uneven terrain.

Last edited by SchrödingersCar : 24th July 2021 at 01:38. Reason: Typo and adding missed info
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Old 24th July 2021, 04:31   #12
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Nice topic. Glad to know about the tanks. I've been hearing about light, medium and heavy tanks. There were reports that Indian army lacks medium tanks for deployment in ladakh.

Can experts shed light on the classification of the light, medium and heavy tanks? I kinda assume that this classification refers to the amount of armor protection. Which category does the MBT belong to?

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Old 24th July 2021, 08:55   #13
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Originally Posted by SchrödingersCar View Post
Sorry sir, but I am not sure if you are serious here, or are kidding.
Tanks return a mileage of 1.50-3.00 kmpl depending upon the weight of the tank and terrain, and are designed for war-fighting and power. Moreover, they are not subject to MVA or RTO rules. So I don't think emission is at the top of tank designers' minds.
I am not kidding. Obviously everyone knows MVA and RTO rules aren't applicable here. Even outside the ambit of MVA, the military may have their own emmision requirements from functional / operational aspect.
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Old 24th July 2021, 09:25   #14
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Originally Posted by lsjey View Post
Nice topic. Glad to know about the tanks. I've been hearing about light, medium and heavy tanks. There were reports that Indian army lacks medium tanks for deployment in ladakh.

Can experts shed light on the classification of the light, medium and heavy tanks? I kinda assume that this classification refers to the amount of armor protection. Which category does the MBT belong to?
I can't comment here with the same confidence that I could on an aviation thread but let me try. Others more qualified may want to add their views.

This classification of light, medium & heavy tanks is a classification from the 1920s and 1930s when the role and operating doctrine of tanks was still evolving and military planners were themselves experimenting with what works and what doesn't. At that time they even had infantry support tanks and anti-tank tanks. There was confusion in the minds of most as to the role of tanks per se'. By the end of WW2 it was clear that you really need one type of tank and that is the one with the most powerful cannon, the best armour you can design and adequate mobility. The Russian T-34 is the best example of this. I would add the German Tiger to the list too. This inevitably led to tank designs going up significantly in weight due to armour and size of cannon. Here the Russians always led the way with size of cannon - 100mm in the T-54/55, 115mm in the T-62 and the superb 125mm in the T-72.

The classifications however dragged into the 1950s as the French, Soviet and American armies developed light tanks for coping with mountainous terrain or air transportability or making them amphibious. But as things evolved through the 1960s the designs converged to one universal main battle tank with enough armour to see it through almost all combat including some tank on tank frontal engagements and the most powerful cannon possible {to hit the baddies hard at the longest range} and that's where we are today. The tracked Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV) like the Sarath , Warrior, Bradley, BMP-3 have become the light tanks of today. As member SchrodingersCar has explained we now have different categories or armoured vehicles other than MBTs - self propelled guns, bridge layers etc.

One reason a single category emerged is because anti-tank HEAT rounds fired as shoulder launched missiles are so developed today that a light or medium tank has high risk of getting hit & disabled even against a well trained infantry.

Last edited by V.Narayan : 24th July 2021 at 09:31.
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Old 24th July 2021, 09:42   #15
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Over and above its very good crew comfort, armour protection & other features - I believe the 120mm Rifled main gun has to be one of the unique features of the Arjun. Only the Arjun and the Challenger2 sport such a gun amongst contemporaries. All others have opted for smoothbores.
Thank you for pointing out the smoothbore vs rifle. Would love to know why a smoothbore is ever preferred? Wouldn't it be less precise by design?
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