Russia ‘stole’ upgraded Indian T-90 tanks to use them in Ukraine

NEW DELHI ($1=82.06 Indian Rupees) — Tanks owned by India are used by the Russian army in the war with Ukraine. Indian journalist Girish Linganna claims this in front of Frontier India. He is a Defense & Aerospace analyst and a Director of ADD Engineering Components [India] Pvt Ltd. This company is a subsidiary of ADD Engineering GmbH, Germany with manufacturing units in Russia.

Russia uses in Ukraine T-90 tanks sent for modernization from India
Photo credit: Frontier India / Telegram

According to Linganna, India has sanctioned Russia for using the tanks. This means that Russia has not asked for permission to retain them and use them in the war. “The T-90 Bhishma is owned by India and has been sent to Russia for modernization testing,” says Linganna. However, only a few days ago, India officially announced that there are no problems with Russian equipment, its modernization, and the supply of spare parts for it. At least those were the words of External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar to a group of journalists during a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.

It all started when a video appeared on Telegram of a Russian T-90 tank manned by Russian soldiers. A detailed study of the multimedia materials shows that this is a T-90S Bhishma tank. I.e. Indian version of the T-90C – the export version of the T-90.

Before the war

In 2021, India sends T-90S Bhishma tanks to Russia for modernization. This is claimed not only by Indian media but also by the Russian state media TASS. Later – in mid-August 2021 – the news was confirmed after Russia announced that “numerous modernized systems have been placed on tanks supplied by India.”

Russia uses in Ukraine T-90 tanks sent for modernization from India
Photo credit: Air Power Asia

There is no information on exactly how many tanks India has sent to Russia for modernization. But India has a huge stock of this type of tank – about 1450 tanks. This is about technology transfer and exported Russian production to India. Nearly 20 years ago, Russia and India signed an agreement to produce this amount. However, Russia produces 124 units, and the remaining amount is made in India.

In fact, Russia and India agreed on the transfer of modernization of Indian tanks in 2017. The agreement involves the transfer of technology to India. Thus, India is trying to reduce Russian dependence on massive modernization. But the announcement in 2021 that Indian tanks are in Russia says that at least one part [even a small one] will be modernized precisely in Nizhny Tagil. The UralVagonZavod plant is located there – the largest tank manufacturer in Russia.

What is being upgraded?

According to Linganna, after the modernization, the tanks of the Indian Army were supposed to be faster, more accurate, and more “cozy” for the crew. No more specific information.

Most likely, the engine is preserved – V-92S2. It delivers at least 1,000 horsepower. But the integration of an additional auxiliary power unit is said to be possible. Thus, the power of the tank becomes 1,130 horsepower.

The Indian tanka may have undergone modernization in terms of the fire control system. The Kalina system is the most usable. More precisely, it is assumed that the main gun was replaced by another version – 2A46M-5. This gun is much more powerful than the standard one used on the T-90C export version.

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