Russia to put $4.5 Billion Next Generation T-14 Armata tank deal on the table during upcoming Modi visit. Momentum towards the sale of the T-14 Armata next generation Main Battle Tank to India is high on the Russian agenda during the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Vladivostok for the 5th Eastern Economic Forum and the 20th Jubilee Bilateral Summit, sources privy to advance discussions indicated to SP’s.
An estimated $ 4.5 Billion Armata deal is being pitched both as a replacement for the Indian Army’s ageing T-72 Main Battle Tank (MBT) and also a universal chassis system which serves as a platform for a variety of armoured tracked vehicles. India is one of the largest operators of Russian tanks and armoured vehicles. Its sizeable fleet of Soviet-era BMP Infantry Combat Vehicles (ICVs) is also due for gradual replacement. The Armata deal is being offered as a multi-purpose replacement for both the T-72 tanks and ICVs.
The T-14 Armata is a next-generation Russian main battle tank based on the Armata Universal Combat Platform—the first series-produced next-generation tank. The Russian Army initially planned to acquire 2,300 T-14s between 2015 and 2020.
The ‘test batch’ of the first 100 serial produced T-14 Armata tanks are scheduled to be delivered to the Russian Army in 2020. The next generation features on these tanks include an unmanned turret, better armour, mobility, weaponry, fire control system and crew facilities like a toilet.
This follows on from a major $5.43 billion contract in October 2018 to purchase five units of the S-400 Triumf hypersonic surface to air missile system, and additional smaller one signed since for everything from R-27 missiles and MiG-29 fighters to an Akula II Class nuclear armed ballistic missile submarine. Negotiations for other large contracts including a purchase of MiG-35 medium fighters and Su-57 heavyweight air superiority fighters, the former with licence production in India, are also ongoing.
Approximately 98% of India’s serving battle tanks are of Russian origin, including approximately 2,500 T-72 tanks and over 1000 of the more modern T-90 tanks, with new deployments of more advanced T-90MS tanks also planned. While more modern variants of the T-72 with advanced capabilities are highly capable, such as the T-72B3 used by Russia’s armed forces, the age of India’s older units means many may be phased out of service in the near future.
Reports that neighbouring Pakistan is interested in acquiring the T-90MS itself, while also modernising Ukrainian sourced T-80 units and looking to China to acquire the VT-4, means a T-14 acquisition could be vital to ensuring a continued advantage for Indian units.
Although India previously enjoyed considerable qualitative superiority in its armoured units to neighbouring China, Chinese development of more advanced battle tanks for its own forces such as the Type 99A has seriously undermined this. Thus the T-14 could be vital to ensuring qualitative superiority on both fronts.
Acquisition of the T-15, an armoured personnel carrier based on the same chassis, is also a considerable possibility. The T-14 is currently one of just three fourth generation battle tanks in service anywhere in the world, alongside the South Korean K2 Black Panther and Japanese Type 10. Other than licensed production of the K2 in Turkey, none of these advanced battle tanks has been exported.