Russia objects to T-72/T-90 simulators: Friend turns 'foe' in tank battle simulator deal - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Thursday 18 February 2010

Russia objects to T-72/T-90 simulators: Friend turns 'foe' in tank battle simulator deal

by Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 19th February 2010

The deeply traditional Indian Army, which prides itself on training outdoors with real equipment, could soon start training on simulators like other high-tech armies.

A hypothetical situation, not too far in the future: after yet another terrorist strike in India, an armoured combat group prepares to raid a terrorist camp near Sialkot, across the Jammu border. Satellite images and photos of the camp taken the previous day by an agent are fed into a simulator, housed in a container next to the tanks. Each tank crew spends time on the simulator, virtually experiencing the next day’s operation and rehearsing their individual tasks.

Tata Advanced Systems, partnering Canadian giant, CAE; is competing with Indian simulator developer, Zen Technologies, to provide India’s T-72 and T-90 tank regiments with 80 containerised simulators that could be transported anywhere, including to a border launch pad. The MoD will soon announce the winner.

No plan survives contact with the enemy, it is said. But this one has run into problems with a friend! Russian officials have told Business Standard that the T-72 and T-90 are their tanks and nobody other than the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) could produce a simulator without infringing Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).

Viktor Komardin, the chief of Russian export controller, Rosoboronexport, pointed out that nobody had consulted Russia. Komardin said, “Is this legal? Is this ethical? Is this proper? If India wants a real simulator, it should be asked for from Russia itself. A quality simulator cannot be created without information from the designer on issues like ballistics and fire control computation.”

Indian officials are either unaware of the Russian objection, or are choosing to ignore it. Komardin says no Indian official has approached Russia for a tank simulator, even though Russia has one available.

CAE, however, denies infringing Russian IPR. CAE India President, H J Kamath, told Business Standard, “No proprietary or OEM software or equipment is needed for the simulator. No original equipment has been used, nor do we need any data or source codes from Russia. Everything has been simulated.”

Zen Technologies is equally emphatic. The company’s President, Kishore Dutt Atluri, says, “We don’t need any information from Russia. The physics of the T-72 and T-90 tanks are well known.”

Interestingly, CAE is also engaged in developing a full-crew simulator for the Arjun tank, which is made by the Defence R&D Organisation, for which the DRDO has given permission.

This conflict notwithstanding, simulator training is entering military consciousness. Long the primary method of training commercial pilots — because of the enormous cost of flying empty airliners on training sorties —- the logic of cost-effectiveness is now overwhelming the army’s traditional preference for live training. The cost of running a tank column (11 litres per kilometre of diesel, plus maintenance and depreciation) is exorbitant compared to the cost of running a simulator.

“Militaries worldwide realise that simulator training is one-tenth the cost of live training on heavy equipment”, says Martin Gagne, CAE’s military simulation head. “Besides, the new buzzword is “mission rehearsal”. Training is not just about flying an aircraft or driving a tank but about preparing for an actual mission.”

Besides the large order for tank simulators, which would install simulation training centres in every major tank base, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and CAE will commission, by mid-2010, a Helicopter Academy to Train by Simulation of Flying (HATSOFF), in Bangalore. This facility will allow the switching around of various cockpits, including the Bell 412, the military Dhruv, and the Dauphin.

And Lockheed Martin will provide the six C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft that India has bought along with flight simulators.

A visit to one of the many simulators on display at Defexpo 2010 in Delhi illustrates that the real challenge in simulator design is in creating a realistic environment. Says Zen’s Atluri, “Recreating a tank or its gun controls is easy. Recreating an entire virtual world around it is the difficult part.”

That is one reason why companies like Zen, which have provided gaming software to companies like Sony, and have long experience in satisfying demanding young video-game enthusiasts, are now making it big in military simulation.


  1. The Russians are sounding more and more like bogus cheats everyday! How can it be an IP violation to build a simulator for a Russian tank!?

  2. Ajai, Tank simulators for the Army and Steel beasts for tank lovers.

  3. We should export the T72 & T90 Simulators to other countries too, To compensate the loss that our tax payers incurred due to the ballooning costs of T90 and their failure to provide TOT on time.

    There are 2 sides to a coin. If Russians fail to oblige to their contractual obligations we have no reason to religiously follow it. May be MoD babus can take lessons from Chinese on this topic.

    We should reverse engineer FGFA and Brahmos and come up with our own indigenous versions, Chinese are very successful at it, our planners could copy the same approach.

  4. Just call it a generic "Tank simulator" instead of T72/T90 simulator.

    And make it a "Multi-Tank Simulator" so that same software can simulate ARJUN tanks also besides T-72 and T-90.

    After that russians would not be able to object.

  5. applauds , why all the sudden russia hate, some people seem to forget that they are the only ones willing to sell top line equipment to us without crippling usage guidelines.
    Every single hooting commentator here would collectively explode in rage if china started to export an arjun simulator to any future customer of ours. And for copying the copycats tut tut where do you get these ideas, or do you pick them off someone else.

  6. Navy have also imported Mig-29K/KUB simulators from Rheinmetall Defence Electronics Germany. Why did not they objected then? Are they annoyed because we are not inviting Russia to take part in T-72 upgrade?

  7. Russian cheated us by giving under rated T-90, And now when we want to develop our capability they are crying. I think MOD should bu just deaf as always and ignore them.

  8. The only bogus cheats are the Indians for dancing with every nation on the planet when they have a defence deal with the Russians. You do not get a sturdy defence just for cash. Go ahead Mr Clean, and try reverse engineering or better still, a decade of debauchery with the USA, you know what that will get ya.
    It has gotten a Big Yea till date for China.
    Look around, you Chicken Tikka eating IITian numskull! It will serve you right.
    O By the way...get those export orders on Brahmos. It is the tax payers money you must recover and just desserts for all the midnight oil you burnt under the divot in IIT. Congratulations, Mr. Simulator!

  9. Seriously, come off your war mongering and sensationalist opinions like "friends turn foe". We behaved just like the Russians when some in Ecuador pointed finger at us after the Dhruv crash, which ultimately turned out to be a pilot error.

  10. Mr. anonymous @16:45

    Whats wrong if India develops simulator for T-72 on its own? BTW T-72 is a Soviet product and Russia is not all what Soviet union was.

  11. Russkies reneged on gun-barrel metallurgy in the T-90 tech transfer deal. So it is not as if their hands are clean either.

  12. Another reason why India should make it's own weapons systems. In this case we have no need to induct the tin-cans of t series. Arjun will just do fine.

  13. Interesting article but I dont see why the language of the title needs to be so controversial? The Russian state is hardly an enemy of India because Rosoboronexport officials raise questions around IPR, the industry has after all lost millions on this issue.

    That said I doubt CAE/Zen has violated any IPR in building the simulator, though if Komardin would consider the simulators to be of 'quality' is another matter...

  14. I apologize for calling the Russians "bogus cheats". So the conclusion now is that everyone is trying to rip us off? Yes, I accept.

  15. Ajai sir

    I have few points to make

    1. a. The Russians have finally woken up to the fact that their shisp, planes and tanks are being copied (ex china).

    b. Probably that is why they are worried that they are worried that these simulators will further allow copiers to gain access to systems in T-72/T-90.

    c. Giving them royalty can be a solution simply bcoz they are the creators of these systems.

    By the way do you have any news about BEML's work on futuristic ultra light tanks, which can be transported across zones by helicopters. Is it possible to ferry 40+ ton tanks on helicopters?

  16. i'd like to see all the nay Sayers make their own tank fit for Indian army service.

  17. “A quality simulator cannot be created without information from the designer on issues like ballistics and fire control computation.” – Except, that the T-72 and the T-90 aren’t quality tanks, but you know what, India has dug her own hole choosing to go with Russian manufactured tanks, and with her retarded fascination with smaller everything.

    The “smallest- lightest aircraft”, the “smallest submarine”… (Speaking in Indian babulal accent) “it is too heavy no no no we are wanting the smaller lighter tank” etc…, I mean Jesus Christ!!!


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