NEW DELHI, August 24 (RIA Novosti) - India's defense industry handed over to the army on Monday the first ten T-90 Bhishma main battle tanks assembled under a Russian license at a domestic plant, Indian media reported.
The Indian Army was the first export customer for the T-90s, which have been in service with the Russian Armed Forces since the mid-1990s. India ordered 310 T-90s in 2001 following delays in the manufacturing of the indigenous Arjun main battle tank and Pakistan's decision to purchase the T-80 from Ukraine.
An agreement was also signed for the licensed production of another 1,000 T-90s. However, production was delayed due to Russia's reluctance to transfer technology, prompting India to purchase another 300 tanks from Russia last year.
Licensed production of the tanks had earlier stalled due to a disagreement with Russia over transfer of technology, which was resolved at the end of 2008.
The Heavy Vehicles Factory at Avadi, near Chennai, plans to produce 100 tanks per year.
The T-90 is equipped with 125 mm smooth-bore gun, 12.7 mm anti-aircraft machine gun and 7.62 mm co-axial machine gun supported with high accuracy sighting systems, and automatic loader for higher firing rate.
It also features sophisticated protection from chemical, biological and nuclear attacks.
Local media cited Indian Minister of State for Defense Pallam Raju as saying on Monday that domestic production T-90 tanks was an "important milestone" for the Indian army and a step towards attaining self-sufficiency in its preparedness.
According to open sources, about 700 T-90 tanks have been deployed so far with six armored regiments in northern and central India.