The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has pulled up the Defence Ministry for ignoring the recommendation of a trial team and inducting Russian—made T—90 tanks without air conditioners, which caused “degradation” in their performance due to long exposure to heat and dust.

The CAG report has said that the ministry entered into another contract for producing these tanks without ACs, rendering their fleet vulnerable to degradation of sensitive components.

CAG noted that key systems of the war machines like the missile—firing mechanism and thermal sights had deteriorated due to prolonged exposure to heat and dust. Most of these tanks are deployed in the Rajasthan desert.

The ministry first procured 657 tanks at a cost of Rs 9083.36 crore and then spent a fee of Rs 330.39 crore for acquiring technology to produce them at home.

CAG rejected the ministry’s reply that its decision of not importing the tanks fitted with ACs was based on trials in which detrimental effects of prolonged exposure to heat and dust were not noticed and they came to light only after they were inducted.

“The ministry’s reply is not factually correct. The trial team had already highlighted the instances of overheating of components noticed during field trials and recommended addition of ACs,” the report said.

The ministry, it noted, had also accepted the necessity for the tanks fitted with ACs as long back as 2002 but a later contract in 2007 still did not include ACs fitted in tanks.

The ministry was of the view that Indian commanders preferred to operate the vehicles with open cupolas which will limit the effectiveness of these ACs.

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