India and Russia are planning to jointly develop a futuristic 'smart' battle tank, having higher speed and better firepower, reports quoting Nikolai Malykh, director general of Russia's biggest battle factory Uralvagonzavod (UVZ), as saying. The two sides had preliminary discussions on the issue and defence ministry experts in India will discuss the new project when a delegation of the (UVZ) tank-building factory visits India this week to participate in an international seminar on the future main battle tank (FMBT) organised by the Army along with the Confederation of Indian Industry, according to Malykh. ''We put forward this idea (of developing the tank) at the turn of the 21st century. The Indian side has now come up with a similar proposal," the Moscow Defence Brief (MDB) magazine quoted Malykh as saying. ''We will take the first step when our experts go to India to attend a conference on the future tank and prospects for the tank-building industry," Malykh said on the sidelines of a defence expo. The new tank will have higher speed, better firepower, sophisticated armour protection and a smoother ride and improved armour protection for crew, the report said. Armour-protected crew compartment will be sealed from the unmanned turret equipped with an automatic loader, to ensure the survivability of highly trained human assets, it said. Information for the crew will be networked using a virtual-reality command information system linked to reconnaissance aircraft and satellites. The move comes even as the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) had suggested a joint assessment with the Indian Army to save the main battle tank (MBT) Arjun and keep the project alive. The rmy, however, has rejected by the idea. The army is also ambiguous on a suggestion by the DRDO that the tank be assessed head-to-head with the T-90 MBTs the army currently operates. A leading Russian defence expert says it makes good sense for India and Russia to join hands in building a futuristic tank. India has purchased over 1,600 T-90S MBTs from the UVZ of which 1,000 will be manufactured at the Heavy Vehicles Factory in Avadi. Uralvagonzavod has for a long time been cooperating with the Avadi plant in the production of T-72 and T-90S MBTs.