Indian Army’s Russian Equipment Profile


Various Departments of the United States government under the Executive Order issued by the U.S, President have issued detailed list of Russian entities and companies that have been sanctioned.


While the entire banking and financial chain of Russia appears to have come under sanctions, 103 defence entities are also in the line up many of which have been Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) for Russian equipment exported to India amongst other countries.


While India will be primarily impacted by secondary sanctions which may or may not be invoked by the US government given strategic partnership and favoured defence relations yet these are expected to hamper smooth procurement as well as curtail further contracts with Russia.


Above these is the existing Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) which can result in direct sanctions. More over these are leverages that will be applied by the U.S. for shaping India’s policies in varied spheres.


How Indian Ministry of Defence in conjunction with the Ministry of External Affairs, Finance, Commerce and the Reserve Bank of India will navigate this challenge impacting defence readiness remains to be seen.


Here we provide a list of weapons and equipment of Russian (Soviet) origin that is being employed extensively by the Indian Army [ Indian Navy and Air Force will follow].


The number s have been drawn from open sources as available and could be dated, but the aim is to highlight which systems and thus what capabilities may be impacted if at all?


Armoured Fighting Vehicles


India has the third generation Russian origin 957 T 90 S tanks named as the Bhishma in service. There is a tranche of these tanks that have been indigenously licensed produced.

In addition, 464 T 90 S tanks are on order, contract for which was signed in November 2019 as per a report in the Defense News.


The contract also involved technology transfer to the Ordnance Factory Board, now a group of limited companies in this case the Armed Vehicles Nigam Ltd by the original equipment manufacturer UralVagonZavod and arms export agency Rosoboronexport at the cost of $1.2 billion.


It is not clear if the technology transfer has been completed or ongoing.


There is a caveat that technology for engines and transmission systems was not expected to be transferred. The status of the contract needs confirmation.


Apart from T 90 S, there are large number of T 72 tanks also in service with the 65 plus armoured regiments in addition to two to three which are equipped with the indigenously produced Arjun tank.


Spares, ancillaries and subsystems for the T 90 S and T 72 are likely to have been indigenized, however in terms of engines and transmission system apart from reserves additional may have to be sourced from Russia.


Infantry Combat Vehicles


Indian Mechanised infantry employs the BMP Sarath Infantry Combat Vehicle based on the BMP II.


A Report in The Wire by noted defence correspondent Rahul Bedi has indicated that 1700 of these are presently operational of the 2691 acquired by the Indian Army.


Upgradation of a host of these is envisaged by Indian companies. Support from Russian vendors can be anticipated and thus will have to be worked out through the sanctions maze.


Wither FRCV and FICV?


Indian Army’s Director General of Mechanised Forces had initiated two projects for replacement of Russian tanks and ICVs – the Future Ready Combat Vehicle (FRCV) and the Future Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV).


After much fanfare these projects are languishing in files with very limited progress though the requisite clearances are issued from time to time but remain on paper.


Several Indian private sector companies have exhibited interest in these projects which have failed to take off due to the bureaucratic maze of India’s defence acquisition procedure.


MLRS and Artillery System


As per Wikipedia, Indian Army has 162 SMERCH 9A52-2T Systems each capable of firing a 12 rocket salvo.


Indigenization of SMERCH may have taken place but operational readiness is expected to require support from the Russian vendor Splav State Research and Production Enterprise which has been merged with the Motovilikha Plants. It is not clear from the U.S. sanctions list if these entities have been sanctioned.


But an early stock of inventory of requirements and procurement may be called for.

While the Indian Army has Grad Multi Rocker Launchers, the present status of these with the forces is not clear as these could have been replaced by the indigenously developed Pinaka systems.


Increase in production of Pinaka rocket systems would be the way ahead.


Indian Army has the Russian 130 mm artillery guns, 240 of which have been mediumised as Sharang with 155mm caliber.


Air Defence


The Army Air Defence has a variety of missiles and gun systems or Russian origin from the vintage with rough numbers which need to be verified as SA 6 – 180, OSA SA 8 AK 80, Strela SA 10 – 200, Igla SA 18 2500 Zsu 23 – 75, Tungushka – 66. OEM support for these is expected to be extensive as limited indigenization may have been achieved due to specialized nature of the equipment and smaller numbers.


ATGMs


A variety of ATGMs of Russian origin are also deployed in the front lines. These include the Konkurs, Kornet and others such as Svir, Ataka and Shtrum being employed with the Mi 25/35 attack helicopters. While a number of these ATGMs are now being produced by Bharat Dynamics Ltd what support is being provided by the OEMs is not clear.


Small Arms


On the small arms front, Indian Army frontline soldiers in counter insurgency operations employ the AK 47 of Russian origin, indigenization of spares may have taken place.

This apart there are a small number of the Dragunov Sniper rifles, Anti Material Rifles and Shmel Flame Throwers.


However sourcing of the 6,01,427 AK-203 assault rifles through Indo-Russia Rifles Private Limited a joint manufacturing firm that has a production line in UP is expected to be delayed including off the shelf procurement of another 70,000 rifles from Russia. These assault rifles are required to replace the dated INSAS 5.56 mm indigenously produced by the Rifle Factory Ishapore now under Advanced Weapons and Equipment India limited


Ammunition


Ammunition for the weapons systems listed above where not indigenized in India will have to be procured from Russia.


Procurements Under Consideration


Indian Army has been considering procurement of the Very Short Range Air Defence (VSHORAD) systems and the Ka-226T utility helicopters.


While the Ka 226 T is likely to be scrapped as the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd has come up with a viable alternative, for VSHORAD where Russians had virtually secured the contract what options are envisaged now remains to be seen?


Conclusion


Drawn from open sources, the above list has been summarized essentially to highlight the overall nature of the challenge facing India’s readiness which hopefully is under active consideration for pre-emptive action by the Ministry of Defence and the Indian Army.

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