India Looking for Substantial Make in India Content in T 90 Tanks

India Looking for Substantial Make in India Content in T 90 Tanks
Moscow. India and Russia are working to finalize the Make in India content in the next lots of T 90 Main Battle Tanks (MBTs).

Discussions have been held for some time in both the countries, the last round on March 18-19 in New Delhi. India is looking at 464 MBTs in addition to some 850 the Indian Army already operates. The deal is reportedly around $ Two billion, and will involve upgrades of the existing tanks at the Heavy Vehicles Factory of the Ordnance Factories Board (OFB) at Avadi in Tamil Nadu.

But this time, Transfer of Technology (ToT) will be a key component any agreement as per the Indian Government’s new Make in India policy to derive some offset gains for big purchases. The state-run Sputnik news agency has given some indications of the ongoing talks but officially, representatives of Uralvagonzavod (UVZ), which makes the tank, and Rosoboronexport (ROE), which handles the arms trade and exports, declined comment.

It may be noted that on March 18-19, the two countries held a Military-Technical Conference covering a comprehensive exchange of views on upgrades of various Russian origin systems in India, from aircraft to vehicles and ships.

The Indian Army plans to have nearly 1700 T 90 tanks by 2020. On offer from Russia now is the advanced T 90MS variant which incorporates some of the turret features of Next-Gen Armata tank developed for the Russian Army, Director of Moscow-based Centre for Analyses of Strategies and Technologies (CAST) independent think tank, Dr Ruslan Pukhov, told India Strategic.

According to him, it was high time for India and Russia to increase cooperation, but as for Make in India involving deep transfer of technology, a lot would depend upon the capabilities of Indian companies to absorb cutting edge technologies.

“Take for example the case of older Konkurs anti-tank wire-guided missiles, Russia has given full technology to India, but it could not absorb it. Some of your defence labs and facilities are world class, some are lingering in the past,” Dr Pukhov said.

The first India-Russia Military Technical Conference held in New Delhi on March 17-18 was co-chaired by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley and Russian Industries and Trade Minister Denis Manturov. It was attended by 100 Russian and 150 Indian companies, both from public and private sectors.

Signing of a long term agreement on lifecycle support and maintenance of the Sukhoi Su-30MKI air dominance fighters between HAL on the one hand and Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) and United Engines Corporation (UEC) on the other was a key highlight of the conference. It was organised by the Department of Defence Production.

Russia is expected to supply spares and other equipment to the tune of US$ 300 million under the Su-30MKI MRO deal.

“Russia is ready to set up centres of competence across India for maintenance of Russian-origin military hardware,” Denis Manturov said, and called for the creation of five platforms to manage defence cooperation between Russia and India: helicopter building, aircraft building, shipbuilding, armour and anti-aircraft weapons.

Once details on specific arrangements are worked out, the two countries should be signing inter-governmental agreements to facilitate requirements of various platforms with the Indian armed forces.