T-72s To Have Polish Fire Control System

New Delhi, December 22: | Updated: Dec 23 2002, 05:30am hrs
The government will be taking expertise from Poland for making the military tanks safer.

Przemyslowe Centrum Optyki (PCO), based in the Polish Capital city of Warsaw, will supply fire control system for the T-72 tanks of the Army.

A team of specialists from Warsaw is expected to arrive in India early next month to fit fire control systems on around 25 T-72 tanks at the state-owned heavy vehicles factory at Avadi in Tamil Nadu. And the rest will be fitted gradually by the end of 2004.

Three companiesCenzin of Poland, El-Op Electro-Optics Industries Limited of Israel and the Thales of Francehadhad made a bid for a contract to improve the fire control system.

The Army has nearly 2,000 T-72s. The improvement in these tanks has been conceived to provide a new life to them, allowing the Army to phase out the less capable Vijayanta and the T-55 tanks by 2010, according to sources in the defence ministry.

Another Polish company Kerametal is bidding for the power plant contract.

The companies wanting to sell the land navigation systems are Israels IAI Electronic Group, the German LITEF GmbH and the South African Reutech Defence Limited.

It maybe recalled that the Kharkiv Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau of Ukraine had recently offered to modernise the entire 2000-strong fleet of T-72s tanks of the Army.

For a $ 500 million plan to upgrade 300 of the T-72 tanks over a period of five years (at the rate of 60 tanks per year), Ukraine company will modernise the following: upgrade 125 mm guns; engine improvements to increase horsepower from 850 to 1000 and even up to 1200; better land navigation systems; nuclear, biological and chemical protection equipment; laser warning systems; thermal imaging systems; night vision devices and frequency-hopping radios.

According to sources, an unspecified number of the T-72s are also to be equipped with Arena, a state-of-the-art Russian defensive aid suite that mounts a multi-directional millimetre wave radar system on the tanks turret to detect incoming missiles.

For paucity of funds, the T-72 upgrade programme has been hanging fire since the year 1991 when the Army first sought it.

The upgradation has acquired an urgency following the acquisition of 320 T-80 UDs by Pakistan between the year 1997 and 1999.

Latest reports are that Pakistans indigenously built Al Khalid main battle tanks (MBTs) is also set to enter serial production.