India seeks interest from local firms for developing battle tank ammunition

Photo: T-90 tank of the Indian Army, for representational purposes only.

By N. C. Bipindra

New Delhi: India is seeking to purchase 85,000 rounds of 125mm ammunition for its Russian-origin T-72 and T-90 tanks with capability to penetrate adversary’s tank armour protection, in a bid to boost its battle readiness against arch rival Pakistan.

The Indian Army‘s Directorate General of Mechanised Forces has come up with an Expression of Interest (EoI) on Jan. 6 that seeks to identify Indian companies keen on developing the 125mm Armour Piercing Fin Stabilised Discarding Sabot (APFSDS) ammunition indigenously for the Russian-origin battle tanks in its fleet.

“The armour protection on the adversary’s tanks is gradually increasing, which requires higher penetration capability to defeat. There is a requirement to indigenously develop an improved 125mm APFSDS ammunition for tanks T-72/T-90,” the EoI document said.

On Sep. 13 last, India’s Defence Acquisition Council had approved the procurement of the 125mm APFSDS in a meeting chaired by Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh.

The army is looking to procure ammunition that is capable of achieving minimum Depth of Penetration (DoP) of 530mm (RHAe) at 60-degree angle of attack at 2000 metres, to be fired from the existing gun barrel, in order to enhance the lethality.

The ammunition, to be developed by Indian firms identified as the Development Agencies (DAs) under the industry-funded ‘Make-II‘ category and procured under Para 20 of Chapter III-A (Indian – Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured – IDDM) of the Defence Procurement Procedure 2016 (DPP-2016), should be within the existing ‘safety’, ‘consistency’ and ‘shelf life’ criteria.

“The objective of this invitation of EoI is to seek responses from eligible Indian vendors for development of prototype and further procurement of the 125mm APFSDS ammunition with minimum DoP of 530mm for tank T-72 and T-90.” Interested vendors are to respond to the EoI by Feb. 17 this year.

The quantities sought for the project are:

  • Prototype Development Phase: Upto 250 rounds each for T-72 and T-90 platform to be provided by the shortlisted DA/DAs.
  • Procurement Phase: 85,000 rounds of 125mm APFSDS ammunition.

The 125mm APFSDS ammunition is the primary tank ammunition, utilised for destruction of enemy tanks. The advent of superior protection technologies now available globally, resulting in improved protection levels of Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFVs), including those of India’s likely adversaries, can defeat the penetration capability of current anti-tank

The aspect of Depth of Penetration, which defines the terminal effects of the ammunition, is a major consideration to defeat the enhanced protection levels of AFVs. The present in-service ammunition has a DoP of 460mm.

“Therefore, there is a requirement to indigenously develop an improved APFSDS ammunition for tank T-72/T-90 with minimum DoP of 530mm, in order to enhance the lethality, within the existing ‘safety’, ‘consistency’, and ‘shelf life’ criteria.”

This ammunition is required to be fired from the existing 125mm smooth bore barrels, presently fitted on tanks T-72 and T-90, duly integrated with the present gun systems and fire control systems.

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