Manufacturer: Heavy Vehicles Factory, Avadi  
Product type: Armoured Vehicles  
Name: Armoured vehicle-launched bridge  

The original Indian intention was to order only a small number of export T-72M1 MBTs from Russia pending the production of the locally designed Arjun MBT which is covered in the previous entry.

It was then decided to undertake local production of the Russian T-72M1 MBT at Avadi and the first vehicles were completed in 1987 with first vehicles being delivered to the Indian Army the following year.

The first 175 tanks were produced with kits supplied by Russia. This was followed by progressive local manufacture. The eventual aim was to produce as much of the tank as possible in India with the target being 97 per cent. It is understood that this target was not achieved.

Production of the T-72M1 in India was running at about 70 vehicles a year with final vehicles being delivered in March 1994. In Indian Army service the T-72M1 is known as the Ajeya and by 1995 the Indian Army had around 1,100 vehicles in service. Other sources have indicated that the total Indian T-72M1 MBT fleet could be as low as 800 or even as high as 1,980 vehicles.

Late in 1997, it was revealed that more than 30 125 mm T-72M1 tank barrels had burst during range practice and that efforts were being made to determine the cause of this problem.

Under the T-72M1 upgrade programme, which is known in India as 'Operation Rhino', it is expected that the T-72M1 MBTs will be upgraded in a number of key areas including the installation of a new fire-control system, new diesel power pack, explosive reactive armour, land navigation system, laser warning system frequency hopping radios and a new NBC system.

it is expected that around 180 to 200 T-72M1 MBTs will be upgraded to the full standard with a larger number only having part of the upgrade package.

Plans to upgrade at least part of the Indian T-72M1 fleet have been referred to as 'Operation Rhino'. Early in 1997, it was reported that Russia had offered India its Arena defensive aid suite as a possible counter to the recent acquisition by Pakistan from the Ukraine of the T-80UD MBT. It is superior in many respects to the T-72M1 which is currently the latest MBT in service with the Indian Army. Details of the Arena system are given in the entry for the Russian T-80 MBT later in this section.

Late in 1998 it was reported that India had placed an order for 200 of the latest Russian T-90 MBTs as production of the Arjun MBT will take sometime to build up.


  • 155 mm SPG

The Indian Army has a requirement for a 155 mm self-propelled artillery system mounted on a locally built T-72M1 MBT chassis. Four foreign 155 mm turrets were tested on a T-72 chassis in India with the south African LIW Division of Denel T-6 eventually being selected as the winner.

As of early 1999 it is understood that no production order had been placed forthe T-6 turret system which is covered in detail in the Self-propelled Guns and Howitzers (Tracked section).

  • ARV

The Indian Army has taken delivery of 113 VT-72B armoured recovery vehicles based on the T-72 MBT chassis from ZTS of Slovakia and more recently Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) has obtained a licence to undertake production of this vehicle in India. It is understood that the Indian Army has a requirement for up to 400 ARVs.

  • AVLB

India is known to have built at least one prototype of an armoured vehicle-launched bridge on the T-72 MBT chassis under the local designation of the Bridge Layer Tank (BLT) T-72.

The T-72 chassis has been fitted with a scissors-type bridge that is laid over the front of the vehicle with the bridge being similar to that fitted to the Kartik AVLB which is based on a stretched Vijayanta MBT chassis (qv).

The bridge itself is very similar to the former East German BLG-60 series. The system can lay a bridge 20 m or 22 m long when opened out.

Details of the BLT T-72 are given in Jane's Military Vehicles and Logistics 1999-2000 page 117, as are details of the new Tank-mounted Multi-Hop Assault Bridge (MHAB) (page 118) and the Extended Span Assault Bridge (ESAB) (page 119). For the trials programme old Centurion MBT chassis have been used.

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