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In the wake of the Ukraine war and recognizing the evolving needs of modern warfare, India is planning a significant upgrade to its fleet of 1450 Russian T-90 Main Battle Tanks (MBTs). This upgrade aims to address two key areas: increased armour protection and enhanced firepower. To accommodate these advancements and the additional weight they may bring, the Indian Army is exploring a powerful new engine – the DRDO-developed DATRAN 1500hp.

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has served as a stark reminder of the importance of robust tank Armour and firepower in modern battlefields. Witnessing the performance of the T-90s in the war, the Indian Army seeks to equip its fleet with improved Armour and next-generation weaponry to ensure their effectiveness in diverse terrains and against evolving threats.

Developed by DRDO and Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML), the DATRAN 1500hp engine is currently being tested for the Futuristic Main Battle Tank (FMBT) program, designed to replace T-72 MBTs from 2030 onwards. However, its impressive power output and modular design make it a strong contender for the T-90 upgrade program as well.

Key Considerations:

  • Modular Design: The DATRAN engine’s modularity allows for variable power output, ranging from 1200 to 1500 horsepower. This flexibility is crucial to cater to the specific needs of high-altitude battlefields, where increased power is essential for manoeuvrability.
  • Detuning: It remains unclear whether the 1500hp engine will be detuned for the T-90s or if the same powerful version will be used. The decision will likely hinge on factors like weight constraints and the specific upgrade package envisioned for the tanks.

While the T-72 replacement program with FMBTs equipped with DATRAN engines kicks off in 2030, the T-90 upgrade program is expected to begin around 2028. This phased approach ensures a continuous modernization process while minimizing disruptions to the army’s operational capabilities.

India’s T-90 upgrade program is a significant step towards strengthening its Armoured capabilities. By addressing key areas like engine power, Armour protection, and firepower, the Indian Army aims to ensure its T-90s remain a formidable force in the region for years to come.

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