List of India’s Top 5 Battle Tanks

This article delves into India’s top 5 battle tanks that serve as the backbone of its ground warfare capabilities. 

India’s military prowess, particularly its armoured forces, has garnered global attention. This article delves into India’s top 5 battle tanks that serve as the backbone of its ground warfare capabilities.

India’s Top 5 Battle Tanks

The Indian Army’s main battle tank, the Arjun, was developed by the Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE) of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). In honour of the renowned character Arjuna from the Indian epic Mahabharata, the design process commenced in 1986 and concluded in 1996. Following its introduction in 2004, the tank featured a range of armaments including a 120 mm rifled main gun, a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun, and an NSVT 12.7 mm machine gun. Its power source consists of a single MTU multi-fuel diesel engine, capable of producing 1,400 hp. The Arjun demonstrates impressive capabilities, such as a top speed of 70 km/h and a cross-country speed of 40 km/h. Nevertheless, despite its exceptional specifications, the tank has encountered significant obstacles. By 2009, production readiness had been achieved, but technical issues rendered approximately 75 per cent of the Arjun force inoperable by mid-2015.

The T-90 Bhishma is an Indian version of the Russian T-90S tank, specifically designed for Indian terrain with support from Russia and France. India acquired approximately 310 T-90S tanks from Russia, with 124 delivered in full and the remaining 186 assembled in Indian factories. The T-90 Bhishma bears a resemblance to the T-72, simplifying the process of service and training for new crews. It is equipped with powerful armour-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot (APFSDS) rounds and barrel-launched Refleks anti-tank guided missiles. India’s decision to procure the T-90s was influenced by delays in the production of the domestically manufactured Arjun main battle tank and as a response to the deployment of Ukrainian-made T-80 tanks by Pakistan. By 2021, the Indian Army aimed to enhance its existing fleet of T-90s by incorporating locally designed modular Activation Protection, ensuring these tanks meet contemporary standards.

The Indian Army introduced the T-72 Ajeya in 1979 as a temporary main battle tank, which is an Indian variant of the Russian T-72M1 tank. The majority of the current fleet was imported between 1982-86. The T-72M was developed from the Soviet T-72 export version, and it was modernized in the 1990s as the Mark II with components from the Polish PT-91. The tanks require overhaul after 12/10 years, and it is estimated that around 1700 have been delivered to the Indian Army. The T-72 is a family of Soviet main battle tanks that began production in 1969. Over 25,000 T-72 tanks have been built, and many have remained in service for decades due to refurbishment. It has been exported widely and has been used in 40 countries and numerous conflicts. The T-90, introduced in 1992 by Russia, and the Chinese Type 99 are further developments of the T-72. The production and development of various modernized T-72 models continue to this day.

The Vickers MK-VI, also known as the Tank, Light, Mk VI, was a British light tank manufactured by Vickers-Armstrongs in the late 1930s. It played a significant role during the Second World War and was part of a series of light tanks developed by Vickers-Armstrongs for the British Army in the interwar period. While the Mark VI shared many similarities with its predecessors, there were a few notable differences. The turret was enlarged to accommodate a three-man crew and create space for a wireless set at the rear of the tank. The weight of the tank was increased to 10,800 pounds (4,900 kg), resulting in improved handling capabilities. Additionally, a more powerful 88 horsepower (66 kW) engine was installed, allowing the tank to reach a maximum speed of 35 miles per hour (56 km/h). It is important to note that the British service name “Stuart” was derived from the American Civil War Confederate General J. E. B. Stuart and was used for both the M3 and M5 Light Tank variants. However, it should be clarified that the Vickers MK-VI and the M3/M5 Stuart are distinct tanks. In terms of its deployment in India, the Mark VI, like its predecessors, was utilized by the British Army for imperial policing duties in British India and other colonies within the British Empire.

During World War II, the M3 Stuart, also known as the Light Tank M3, was utilized by the American military. The British and other Commonwealth forces were supplied with an upgraded version, the M5, through lend-lease before the U.S. entered the war. The M3 Stuart was the first light tank to be used by the Indian Army and played a crucial role in the capture of Kargil during the 1947-1948 war against the Pakistan army at the Zojila Pass. The development of the M3 Stuart was a result of the German invasion of France, which prompted the United States Army to consider a new doctrine and establish an independent U.S. armoured force. The “Light Tank M3” featured enhancements such as thicker armor, a redesigned suspension, and a new gun recoil system. With a production of 23,685 units, the Stuart stands as the most prolific light tank in the history of global tank manufacturing.