India’s foray into more advanced Russian tank design focuses on tailoring a Russian design to Indian requirements and a simple, domestically manufactured parts-acquisition process. Improvement in armor and targeting give the Bhishma an edge.
Back in the early 2000s, India bought several hundred T-90 tanks from Russia and has since grown a formidable collection of actually quite capable armor.
The Russian T-90s, while quite capable on their own, (actually just plain tough) were a strategic decision for India. India fields a fairly extensive fleet of domestically build T-72s. These T-72s shares a number of components in common with the T-90 platform (possibly as high as 60%), which would, in theory, simplify logistics and repairs.
India’s T-90M Bhishma — named after a character in Mahabharata epic— sports French-built thermal sights, and Russian Kotakt-5 explosive reactive armor (ERA). Its turret also has domestically developed composite armor, a mixture of ceramic and other laminates, which may offer better protection than the stock T-90S, the Russian export model.
Although India fields a domestically designed and manufactured tank, the Arjun, the platform has been set back by production delays, which spurred purchases of the T-90.
There are advantages to the T-90 platform, domestically produced or not.
One of the T-90 variants, the T-90MS is reportedly ideal for the cold, harsh conditions of Ladakh, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh in far north and eastern regions. In contrast, the native Arjun thrives on India’s plains, which can be extremely hot, and was reportedly a challenge for the T-90s, presumably due to overheating.