NEW DELHI — India’s highest defense procurement body, the Cabinet Committee on Security, has approved purchase of 464 Russian T-90MS main battle tanks for $1.92 billion, but it’s unlikely the Ministry of Defence will sign a contract unless Russia agrees to boost local industrial co-operation for the tanks.

The T-90MS tanks are to be produced by state-owned Heavy Vehicles Factory under license from the Russian original equipment manufacturer Uralvagonzavod. India wants Uralvagonzavod to increase local production of the tanks from 40 percent to 80 percent, said a senior MoD official.

A senior official with the state-owned Ordnance Factory Board said: ”Till now India has received 310 plus 347 T-90 tanks from Russia, whether fully formed or assembled in Heavy Vehicles Factory." But he added that full localization is impossible, thus a large amount of the assembly process will be imported.

A senior Indian Army official noted that the gunnery portion of the tank comes “factory-fitted from Russia, with some minor equipment being made by OFB.” The official added that OFB does not produce engines or transmissions, which are approximately 40 percent of the cost of a T-90MS tank.

Another Army official, citing the lack of a robust technology transfer deal, that this venture will prove expensive because it does not cover life cycle support and upgrades.

The Army has inducted 1,100 T-90 tanks, of which 300 have been directly imported from Russia.

Vivek Raghuvanshi is the India correspondent for Defense News.

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