Military


T-90 Bhisma

The historians of Orissa have shown how the origin of India's illustrious Ganga dynasty is shrouded in mystery. Infact, no documentary historical evidence has yet been available to establish their origin. These historians have accepted the inscriptions engraved at different times by the Ganga dynasties, chiefly of Kalinganagar and Mysore, as the basis of their research.

The famous Bhisma, the son of Ganga or Gangeya of Mahabharata fame, belongs to a lunar dynasty. He was the greatest warrior of his time, a Kshatriya. In the society of his time he had achieved the reputation of being patriarch Bhisma, the greatest among the Kurus. The Nishadas belong to Kaivartta caste because of their occupation. So the question arises to which caste Bhisma, the son of Ganga or Gangeya would belong owing to his birth? For this we have to know Bhisma's origin or story of birth.

From the records of original Mahabharata, we know that once Santanu, the Kuru king was wandering on the banks of the river Ganga. At that time the river Ganga appeared before him in the guise of a woman. Being attracted by her beauty, Santanu had courted her. Ganga gave her consent, but put forth a condition. The condition was Santanu would not resist any action of Ganga. The day Santanu would resist her, she would disappear. As Santanu accepted this condition Ganga stayed with him as a wife and their love lasted for a long time. It is worth mentioning here that there is no hint of a regular marriage between the two in the original Mahabharata written by Vyasa.

Out of the love and co-habitation of Ganga and Santanu, seven children were born and all of them were immersed in the river Ganga by their mother. When the eighth child was born, Ganga, as usual, went to immerse it in the river. Unable to bear it, Santanu protested. Since the condition was flouted, Ganga left the baby with Santanu and disappeared in the water of the river Ganges.

Later on, when the baby grew up he came to be known as Gangeya, the son of Ganga, Devabrata as well as Bhisma. From the above accounts of Devabrata - Bhisma's birth given in the Mahabharata and other puranas, we don't get any hint about the family, race and caste of his mother. Because of this undivulgable incident, possibly the writers of puranas have preferred to remain silent on this issue. We have mentioned elsewhere that for different reasons the writers of puranas have expressed historical truths through symbols.

The writer of Mahabharata possibly has tried to reveal something symbolically by stating that the river Ganga had appeared before Santanu in the guise of a woman. Puranic Encyclopedia mentions, "Ganga Devi was born as a mortal woman in the world under the name Ganga and she spent her days in the forests of the Ganga River Valleys."

Bhisma reclines upon the bed of arrows, surrounded by the seven rishis, including Narada with the vina; Krishna, four-handed, with mace, conch, and lotus; Yudhisthira; and the other pandavas; and Duryodhana. Bhisma, the venerable uncle of pandu and chrtarastra, and instructor of the pandavas and kauravas alike, fought on the side of the latter in the great war. On the tenth day the aged hero grew weary of the slaughter, and desired to meet his own fate. At last he fell, wounded by many arrows. When he fell from his car the hearts of all fell with him. 'That foremost of all bowmen,that mighty-armed hero, fell down like an uprooted standard of Indra, shaking the earth as he fell.

Pierced all over with arrows, his body touched not the ground. At that moment a divine nature took possession of that great bowman lying on a bed of arrows.' The sun was then in the southern solstice, an inauspicious time for death. Wounded as he was, Bhisma resolved to hold his life until the sun should reach the north; so, 'having recourse to that yoga which is taught in the great Upanishads, he remained quiet, expectant of his hour.' Subsequently Bhisma, in response to the inquiries of yudhisthira, instructed him in the four branches of knowledge at great length. The story says that when yudhisthira came to Bhisma, ' he lay stretched on his arrowy bed, resembling in splendour the evening sun'; like unto a fire that is about to go out'. When at last the sun turned towards the north, Bhisma gave up his life-breaths: 'in the midst of those great-hearted men it was a marvelous thing to see'.

The last 5 days of the month of Kaarttika are traditionally known as the Bhishma Panchaka or the Vishnu Panchaka. In the Hari Bhakti Vilasa, it is said that if one is capable, one should observe fasting from certain foodstuffs on the Bhishma-panchaka for the pleasure of the Lord. This is optional. The Padma Purana say that one pleases the Lord and makes spiritual advancement by such austerities.

The Army has at present Vijayanta, T-55 and T-72 tanks in its armored fleet. It has been seeking to modernise its tank fleet for some time now and after considering various options, the Army decided to go in for the acquisition of the T-90s tank. The T-90, which is an upgraded version of the T-72 tank, is a state-of-the-art tank with missile-firing capability. It is fitted with an active protection system against enemy missiles. The T-90 tanks have missile firing and night vision capabilities besides superior mobility, communication and firepower.

Four major Agreements in the field of defence were signed on 04 October 2000 between India and Russia. These Agreements will significantly strengthen the defence cooperation between the two countries. An Agreement between Ministry of Defence and the State Cooperation Rosvoorouzhenie of the Russian Federation on the purchase of T-90 tanks by India was also signed. This Agreement was signed by senior officials of the Defence Ministry and Rosvoorouzhenie. This Agreement relates to the purchases of 310 T- 90s tanks.

The Agreement is a composite agreement under which 310 tanks will be acquired, a large number of which will be supplied in fully formed condition and, therefore, will be ready for an immediate deployment. The Ministry of Defence would also be acquiring complete technology transfer for the indigenous manufacture of these tanks in India.This acquisition will greatly improve the operational capability of the Indian Army.

A major contract was signed with Russia for the procurement of 310 T-90 tanks in February, 2001 to strengthen Indian Army. Under the contract 124 tanks will be imported in fully formed condition and 186 Tanks in Completely Knocked Down (CKD) / Semi Knocked Down (SKD) condition along with Transfer of Technology for indigenous manufacture in India. As of 2001 eighty T-90 tanks were expected to be supplied by Russia by the end of the year. The transfer of technology documents are also being received and the assembly of the semi-knocked down or the completely knocked down parts of the tank was to commence towards the end of year 2002, with the indigenous production is scheduled to begin by the year 2006. This would be developed with the experience gained in the manufacturing of the T-72 tank.

The T-90 tank is a state-of-the-art tank, but it never came into production for reasons best known to the Russians. Therefore, the induction of these tanks may be complicated in view of the absence of production line in Russia. To produce the same at Avadi will take time and money for production to commence. In 2001 the contract on delivery to India of tanks T-90s of production 'Uralvagonozavod' was under threat of frustration, according to the Governor of Sverdlovsk Region, Eduard Rossel. According to him, many accessory manufacturers of 'Uralvagonozavod' were not ready for realisation of such a large project. According to the Sverdlovsk Governor, he was horrified when he found out how the matters are going on for implementation of the contract. At that time, Uralvagonozavod had only a complete contract with the Chelyabinsk tractor factory on delivery of tank engines. It looked like the partners from Izhevsk, Magnitogorsk, northwest part of Russia had only recently have learnt that they are the participants of the project too. Some plants of VPK (military production complex) that were involved in the project already had suspended the manufacturing facilities, and have dismissed their people.

Russia had gone to their state-of-the-art tank, `Black Eagle', which is the tank of the future. T-72S, on the other hand, has many common features with 272M and the production of this tank can commence without much delay. All the add-ons of T-90 can be fitted into T-72S which has a tank fire control system, latest technology, 125 mm tank gun, 1000 horse power engine, anti-tank and anti-helicopter missile, SBIR and anti-tank guided missile protective system. With all these add-ons, T-72S has virtually become as good as T-90 and the cost is about Rs.5-6 crore, whereas T-90 is about Rs.12-13 crore.

Indigenous production was planned in the Ordnance Factories. The activities pertaining to establishment of indigenous production were progressing in full swing by 2002. The Ordnance Factories commenced supply of T-90 tanks to the Indian Army from the new assembly line at Heavy Vehicle Factory, Avadi in early January 2004.

The T-90 Main Battle Tanks have been inducted into the Indian Army. The induction of T-90 tanks was expected to increase the strike capability of the Indian Army. The 5 Armored Regiment is the first regiment of the Indian Army to be equipped with the T-90 main battle tank.

With the induction of 124 fully formed imported tanks and production of 186 tanks through Semi-Knocked Down and Completely Knocked Down kits, followed by indigenous production of 1000 tanks, the T-90 was expected to be the Main Battle Tank (MBT) of the Army till the end of the XII Plan.

The 2001 contract for the supply of 310 T-90 tanks had problems. Moscow violated the agreement by not transferring the technology and components to build 1000 T-90 tanks at HVP. Even seven years after the deal, not a single T-90 had rolled out of HVF. The fire control system of T-90 failed to perform as per specifications during field trials. And the air conditioning system supplied by Russia could not prevent the fainting of the tank driver [India floated a global tender for a suitable air conditioner for T-90].

A follow-on contract, worth $800 million, was signed on October 26, 2006, for another 330 T-90M MBTs that were to be built with locally-sourced raw materials. A third contract, worth $1.23 billion, was signed in December 2007 for 347 upgraded T-90Ms, the bulk of which will be licence-assembled by HVF. The Army hopes to field a force of over 21 regiments of T-90 tanks and 40 regiments of modified T-72s. The Indian Army would begin receiving its first T-90M main battle tank (MBT) in completely knocked-down condition from Russia's Nizhny Tagil-based Uralvagonzavod JSC by the end of 2009.

The T-90M features the 'Kaktus' embedded explosive reactive armour (ERA) package on its frontal hull and turret-top (the T-90S has 'Kontakt-5' ERA), is fitted with an enhanced environmental control system supplied by Israel's Kinetics Ltd for providing cooled air to the fighting compartment, has additional internal volume for housing the cryogenic cooling systems for new-generation thermal imagers like the THALES-built Catherine-FC thermal imager (operating in the 8-12 micron bandwidth



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