In a bid to strengthen its defence forces, Pakistan has drawn up a mega plan to procure nearly 600 modern battle tanks, including the T-90s from Russia.
“Most of the tanks Pakistan was procuring are likely to have features like the state-of-the-art computerised fire control system for increased accuracy and they will be able to hit targets within a range of 3 to 4 km,” the military and intelligence sources told news agency Press Trust of India.
The sources further said, “Some of the tanks are set to be deployed along the Line of Control and they will have wider features for battlefield effectiveness.” “Apart from the battle tanks, the Pakistan Army is also procuring 245 150mm SP Mike-10 guns from Italy. It has already received 120 guns of those,” the sources added.
Sources further stated that as part of the ambitious plan to significantly revamp its armoured fleet by 2025, Pakistan has decided to procure at least 360 battle tanks from leading global manufacturers and produce 220 tanks indigenously with help from China.
“As against around 67 armoured regiments of the Indian Army, the number of similar regiments in the Pakistan Army is around 51,” sources said. At present, over 70 per cent of the tanks in Pakistan’s armoury have the capability to operate at night which, they said, was a matter of concern.
Besides eyeing to procure the T-90 tanks, the Pakistan Army is also in the process of inducting the Chinese VT-4 tanks as well as the Oplod-P tanks from Ukraine, sources noted. “Trials for both Oplod and VT-4 tanks have already been conducted by the Pakistan Army,” sources said.
At present, Pakistan is learnt to have around 17 units of the Chinese-origin T-59 and T69 tanks, which comprise 30 per cent of its total tank strength, sources said. It also has 12 regiments of Al-Zarar tanks, which makes 20 per cent of the tank fleet while the Ukraine-origin T-80-UD and T-85-UD, as well as upgraded version of the T-59 tanks, comprise the rest 50 per cent tank fleet, they said.
It is to be noted that Pakistan has been holding joint military drills with Russia in the last couple of years besides eyeing to purchase Russian platforms, triggering some concerns in New Delhi.
However, the Pakistan Army’s move to enhance its armoured corps comes at a time the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed growing hostilities, especially over the last year. The Indian Army has been strongly retaliating to every unprovoked firing by the Pakistani side.
On the other hand, the Indian Army had drawn up a mega plan to modernise its infantry and armoured corps. Unfortunately, all the procurement projects including the Rs 60,000-crore Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) programme are stuck due to a variety of reasons.