Bhishma is all set to get a deadlier system
-Aman Routray and Subodh Sharma
The Indian army is all set to equip its main battle tanks T90 S / SK with a state-of-the-art active protection system. As per the latest development, the Indian army has invited Indian vendors to supply 818 units of AFV Protection & Counter Measure System for tank T-90 S/SK, including ESP and installation on tanks.
New System under Make II:
During this process, two prototypes of AFV Protection & Counter Measure System for tank T-90 S/SK to be developed by the shortlisted vendors. Once these systems are developed, Indian army will test these and then 818 units of AFV Protection & Counter Measure System for tank T-90 S/SK will be procured from the same vendor.
The Infamous Indian army trials will be fast tracked for this requirement. The trails will be conducted in three phases :
- Phase – I : User Trial Readiness Review (UTRR). Development of prototype and to bring the AFV Protection & Countermeasure System for Tank T-90 S/SK for user trial level and ensure that, the equipment meets the desired parameters and safety standards. The prototype will be evaluated on UTRR prepared by PFT.
- Phase – II : User and Tech Trials (Summer and Winter Trials). To evaluate indigenously developed AFV Protection and Counter Measure System for tank T-90 S/SK and ascertain its suitability for induction in the Army.
- Phase III : During this trials the system will be tested with live ammunition with a working tank. The selected agency will be supplied with the following :
- The shortlisted vendor will be provided with 1 T90 Tank for the fitment of the system.
- The Indian army will also provide the crew for the tank operation.
- The firing range will also be provided by the Indian army.
- Weapon and ammunition will be provided by the Indian army.
The desired system should have both soft kill and hard kill capabilities. The Idea is to have following capabilities:
- Soft kill.
- Should provide an audio-visual warning on being lased or engaged by a hostile platform.
- Use decoy smoke for anti lasing and camouflage against acquisition and detection of own platform.
- Be able to degrade/defeat in-coming laser/ IR/Radar guided missiles by means of electro optical signals and or IR and or jamming.
- Hard kill.
- Use sensors to detect incoming projectiles.
- Use countermeasures to destroy/degrade incoming projectiles
An active protection system has a radar and projectile launcher. Often observers wonder these fitments can be protected against small fire or splinters? The Indian army wants these fitments to be self-protected with a protection level of STANAG 4569 level 3.
The most interesting requirement here is effectiveness that desired system should have against various type of the projectiles.
(a) ATGM – 90 % or more
(b) HEAT round from 125 mm tank gun -70 %
(c) RPG/RL- 90 % or more
In addition, it should have scope of further improvement providing protection against KE Projectiles in future.
Other key requirements of the system
The overall weight of the system should not be more than 1000 KG. The system should deflect or destroy hostile attacks to protect against threats from guided missiles, RPG/RL, and projectiles fired up to a velocity of 1000 m/sec. The fitting of any component of the system, should not be more than the height of the existing Anti-Aircraft Machine Gun bracket, which implies that the Indian army does not want to increase the visual profile of the T90.
The system should be capable of operating in the cold desert of Ladakh and the hot desert of Rajasthan with an operating temperature margin of 45 degrees to -5 degrees centigrade. The system should function when static or on the move and should be capable of all-weather day and night operations.
It Should be capable of detecting more than one direction of attack in case of a near-simultaneous hostile threat (minimum 0.5-second gap) and neutralize up to two threats. It Should have high safety against accidental activation by false projectiles such as small arms fire, artillery, splinters, etc. The danger zone for dismounted troops operating in the vicinity should not exceed a 50 m radius of the tank.
Old Ghost is still haunting:
In today’s scenario, an active protection system is one of the most important components that enhance the survivability of the main battle tank. Indian Army earlier tried equipping its main battle tanks with an active protection system during which Russian “Arena” and Israeli “Trophy” were the final contenders. However, “Arena” withdrew from the tender leaving Trophy as a single vendor in the competition. This competition was halted due to the infamous single vendor situation, leaving the Indian army in limbo.
Indian army has again started this quest but this time it is under “make in Indian”, categorized as Make II. The active protection system will be an indigenous system and will ensure that the Indian army’s tank fleet is much better protected.
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