First advanced T-90 Mark III tanks were produced and delivered

The Indian Army has received the first batch of the upgraded T-90 Mark III tanks. Known locally as the Bhishma Mark III, this upgraded T-90 was manufactured by the local Heavy Vehicles Factory. According to Indian sources, the modernization not only integrates new technologies and systems into the tank but also aims to increase the combat potential of the current fleet. New Delhi plans to modernize 300 T-90 tanks. 

First advanced T-90 Mark III tanks were produced and delivered
Photo credit: Top War

Indian sources report that a priority in upgrading the T-90 Bhishma Mark III has been the integration of indigenously produced systems. BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that India has been following its “Make in India” program for years, especially in the field of defense. Not only Russian but also Western, including American manufacturers, are forced to develop their technological know-how on Indian territory. 

The Bhishma Mark III tank is an advanced variant of the T-90, a third-generation Russian main battle tank originally developed by Uralvagonzavod. The Bhishma Mark III is specially tailored for the Indian Army and incorporates several upgrades and modifications to meet the unique operational requirements and environmental conditions faced by the Indian forces.

Russia was quietly killing T-90 tanks until India came along
Photo credit: Telegram

Mark III

The intricate details of the project remain mostly classified, but some exciting key aspects have surfaced. The T-90 Mark III has seen a significant boost in firepower, largely thanks to its enhanced fire control systems, including a digital ballistic computer that simplifies aiming and gun control. 

A Correction Input Device [CID], which automatically records and corrects for tank gun barrel wear, works seamlessly with this ballistic computer. The Main Battle Tank [MBT] now sports a commander’s infrared sight with an LCD display and a muzzle reference system [MRS] for better accuracy. 

One of the most impressive upgrades is the inclusion of digital communications capabilities, which improve communication among crew members and units on the battlefield. The tank has also been given an anti-thermal coating that reduces its visibility in the infrared spectrum, making it harder to detect. 

Mark III and T-90 differences

One of the main differences between the Bhishma Mark III and the original T-90 is the improved armor protection. The Bhishma Mark III incorporates improved composite armor and advanced Explosive Reactive Armor [ERA]. Both provide better protection against modern anti-tank munitions. 

Another notable difference is the integration of an improved engine in the Bhishma Mark III. The tank is powered by a more powerful and reliable engine that provides better mobility and combat range. This upgrade ensures that the Bhishma Mark III can maneuver more effectively in a variety of terrains, from deserts to mountainous areas. 

In terms of armament, the Bhishma Mark III retains the 125mm smoothbore gun of the original T-90 but includes improved ammunition types and an automatic loading system. This allows for faster reloading and a higher rate of fire, making the tank more lethal in combat scenarios. In addition, the Bhishma Mark III is equipped with advanced anti-tank guided missiles [ATGMs] for extended-range combat operations.

Russia was excluded

Initially, India’s plans were for Russia to be actively involved in upgrading the indigenous fleet of T-90 tanks. These plans were in place even before the war between Russia and Ukraine started in 2022. At the end of 2021, a batch of T-90 Bhishma tanks was sent to Uralvagonzavod to undertake one part of the modernization process. 

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

However, the war strained the Russian defense industry for domestic consumption. Indian tanks remained in the background. There were even reports that Russia was using Indian T-90s in Ukraine, which was one of the reasons for the meeting between Putin and Modi. Modi assured journalists that relations with Russia are preserved and that “there are no unsolvable problems.” 

It is entirely possible that it was during this period such decision was made. I.e Russia would not be pressured to return the Indian T-90s. But only in exchange for providing better licensing agreements to New Delhi. We recall: the Indian factory carried out the modernization to the Mark III. These actions lead us to a similar logic. Although it remains unconfirmed as reliable information at the moment.

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