Arjun MBT conducting driving test on sand berms.
|Type||Main battle tank|
|Place of origin||India|
|Manufacturer||HVF of Ordnance Factory Board|
|Unit cost||₹55.9 crore (US$8.1 million)|
|No. built||366 (248 Mk-I and 118 Mk-II ordered)|
|Mass||58.5 tonnes (57.6 long tons; 64.5 short tons) Mk.2=68 tonnes (67 long tons; 75 short tons)|
|Length||10.638 metres (34 ft 10.8 in)|
|Width||3.864 metres (12 ft 8.1 in)|
|Height||2.32 metres (7 ft 7 in)|
|Crew||4 (commander, gunner, loader and driver)|
The Arjun (Sanskrit: अर्जुन, pronounced [ɐɽˈdʑʊn] in Classical Sanskrit and pronounced [ərdʒʊn] in Hindi) is a third generation main battle tank developed by India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), for the Indian Army. The tank is named after Arjun, the main protagonist, an archer prince of the Indian epic Mahabharata.
The Arjun features a 120 mm main rifled gun with indigenously developed armour-piercing fin-stabilized discarding-sabot ammunition, one PKT 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun, and a NSVT 12.7 mm machine gun. It is powered by a single MTU multi-fuel diesel engine rated at 1,400 hp, and can achieve a maximum speed of 67 km/h (42 mph) and a cross-country speed of 40 km/h (25 mph). It has a four-man crew: commander, gunner, loader and driver. Automatic fire detection and suppression and NBC protection systems are included. All-round anti-tank warhead protection by the newly developed Kanchan armour is claimed to be much higher than available in comparable third generation tanks.
Subsequently, delays and other problems in its development from the 1990s to the 2000s prompted the Indian Army to order T-90S tanks from Russia to meet requirements that the Arjun had been expected to fulfill.
In March 2010, the Arjun was pitted against the T-90 in comparative trials and performed well. The Army placed an order for an additional 124 Arjun Mk-I tanks on 17 May 2010 and 124 Arjun Mk-II Tanks on 9 August 2010. However, in 2012 and 2016 the Indian Army has chosen instead to order 464 new T-90MS tanks for eight tank regiments, increasing the total number of T-90s in Indian service to over 2000 and undermining further procurement of the Arjun.
The Arjun entered service with the Indian Army in 2004. The tanks were first inducted into the 43 Armoured Regiment, Indian Army Armoured Corps while the latest induction has been into the 75 Armoured Regiment on 12 March 2011.
- 1 History
- 2 Specifications
- 3 Trials and exercise
- 4 Operational history
- 5 Variants
- 6 Arjun Mk II
- 7 FMBT
- 8 Operators
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Planning and development
The DRDO, with its Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE) as the main laboratory, was tasked to develop the hull, armour, turret, running gear and gun for the tank, with the powerpack being imported.
Although the development of the tank began in 1972 by the CVRDE, it was only in 1996 that the Indian government decided to mass-produce the tank at Indian Ordnance Factory's production facility in Avadi.
When first accepted for service in the army, the Arjun relied heavily on foreign components and technology. Initially close to 50% of the tank's components were imported, which included the engine, transmission, gun barrel, tracks, and fire control system. However, several of these have since been replaced by indigenous systems or are being supplied by Indian companies. Recent comments from Army sources indicate that the Russian T-90S will form the mainstay of its future force, despite that tank's performance issues in hot weather.
The Arjun project experienced serious budget overruns and repeated delays that resulted in a development time of over 37 years. A complicating factor was that advances in technology and the threat environment in the intervening years led to multiple revision of requirements by the Army. While the government sanctioned ₹15.5 crore (equivalent to ₹347 crore or US$50.2 million in 2018) for the initial design in May 1974, by 1995, DRDO had spent ₹300 crore (equivalent to ₹13 billion or US$193.3 million in 2018) on development due to changing requirements and inflationary cost increases.
Production and deployment
Early development versions of the Arjun were held by 43 Armoured Regiment which were shown in display in the Republic Day Parade of 2001. The first batch of 16 production version Arjun tanks were received in 2004 and they were provided as a squadron to the 43 Armoured Regiment. The regiment was later made up to 45 tanks on 25 May 2009 making it the first Arjun regiment of the Indian Army. More than 100 tanks have been delivered to the Indian Army as of June 2011. The latest regiment to be completely equipped by the Arjun tank is 75 Armoured Regiment which was the last regiment in the Indian Army to hold the T-55 tank.
As part of improving the Arjun to the Mark-II variant, DRDO is continuing to develop new technology systems for MBT Arjun, in order to improve performance in areas like automatic target locating, tracking and destruction. The Arjun MK-II variant is being developed in coordination with and with the involvement of the Indian Army and will feature several modifications that are being sought by it.
DRDO has developed the Tank Urban Survival Kit which is a series of improvements to the Arjun intended to improve fighting ability in urban environments which includes defensive aids like laser warning, IR jammer, and aerosol smoke grenade system.
DRDO developed a Laser Warning Control System (LWCS) in cooperation with Elbit Limited of Israel to be equipped on the Arjun at regimental level. LWCS includes the defensive aids mentioned, and will help reduce the signatures of the tank in the battle field and improve its survivability. DRDO is also co-developing the Mobile Camouflaging System (MCS) technology along with a Gurgaon-based private sector defence manufacturer Barracuda Camouflaging Limited. The MCS has been developed by DRDO to help the tank reduce the threat of interference from all types of sensors and smart munitions of the enemy in the tank's systems.
Weighing in at 58.5 tonnes, the Arjun tank is significantly heavier than the Soviet-legacy tanks used presently by the Indian Army, and required changes to the army's logistics establishment, including new railroad cars to transport the bigger and heavier Arjuns. The required logistical changes have been made but the cost of the whole project has increased.
Armed with a 120 mm rifled gun, the Arjun is believed to be capable of firing APFSDS (kinetic energy penetrator) rounds, HE, HEAT, High Explosive Squash Head (HESH) rounds at the rate of 6-8 rounds per minute and the Israeli developed semi-active laser guided LAHAT missile. The LAHAT is a gun-launched missile and is designed to defeat both enemy armour and enemy combat helicopters. In addition, the Arjun is armed with a 12.7 mm AA machine gun and a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun. The Arjun can carry 39 rounds in special blast-proof canisters. The Arjun uses a manual loader and has a crewman to reload the gun. Although the Arjun was planned to be equipped with the Israeli LAHAT missile, plans to fit it to the tank were later dropped; the missile has an effective range of 6,000 meters, but it could not meet the Indian Army's requirements of engaging targets at less than 1,200 meters. An indigenously-developed anti-tank missile will now have to be created for the Arjun. Indigenously developed missile with a range of 5 km was test fired successfully from Arjun against a tank target.
New tank ammunition called 'Penetration-Cum Blast (PCB) and Thermobaric (TB) Ammunition' is specially designed for Arjun Tank and was recently tested by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).The ammunitions have been developed by Pune-based DRDO laboratories Armament Research and Development Establishment ( ARDE) and High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL).During the development phase, these ammunitions were extensively evaluated against different simulated targets - armour plates, concrete structures and fortifications.The trials were conducted jointly with Army and was aimed to demonstrate the effectiveness of the ammunitions on derelict tank fitted with instrumentation to measure the shocks, blast pressure and temperature at various locations and on advanced imaging systems.
The computerised fire control system aboard Arjun has been jointly developed by DRDO with Israeli company Elbit. The Fire Control System is stabilised on two axes, and with an extremely high hit probability (design criteria call for a greater than 0.9 Pk) replaces an earlier analogue one, which had problems due to its inability to function under the harsh desert conditions. The combined day sight from Bharat Electronics Ltd. and the thermal imager (formerly from Sagem, now reported to be from El-Op) constitute the gunner's primary sight. The first batch of tanks of the 124 ordered by the Army will have an all-digital Sagem FCS, whereas the second block will have the BEL unit, which will be used for all units thereafter. The commander's own stabilised panoramic sight allows him to engage targets and/or hand them over to the gunner. The Arjun has an auxiliary power unit to operate weapon systems in silent watch mode as well.
The tank incorporates GPS-based navigation systems and sophisticated frequency hopping radios. The state-of-the-art Battlefield Management System, co-developed by DRDO and Ebit Israel, allows it to network with other fighting units. The Arjun has the capability to network with other tanks, thanks to its Battle Management System. In a search and engage operation, several Arjun tanks can monitor an opponent and his moves, and try to eliminate him in a chase or ambush.
The turret and glacis are protected with "Kanchan" ("gold") modular composite armour, which derived its name from Kanchan Bagh, Hyderabad, where the Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory (DMRL) is located. Kanchan is made by sandwiching composite panels between Rolled Homogenous Armour (RHA). This helps in defeating APFDS and HEAT rounds. Trials conducted in 2000, showcased the ability of Kanchan armour to protect the tank, even when hit at point blank range by a T-72. It also demonstrated the capability to defeat HESH and APFSDS rounds, which included the Israeli APFSDS rounds. A new honeycomb design of Non-Explosive and Non-Energetic Reactive Armour (NERA) along with nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) protection equipment, along with mine sweeps and an automatic fire fighting system are set up on the Arjun Mark II variant. Electromagnetic-counter mine system can also be installed to disable magnetic mines and disrupts its electronics before the tank reaches them. Signature reduction suite is also available for this design to reduce the probabilities of the object to be detected by Infrared, Thermal, Radar-Thermal, and Radar bands. The planned improvements include Electro-optical/IR "dazzlers", Laser warning receivers, aerosol grenade discharging systems and a computerised control system among few. The tank is fitted with infrared jammer, laser rangefinders and designators are used in navigation (GPS/INS), observation systems and sensors, real-time command and beyond-vision-range target engaging. Advanced Fire Control System (FCS) is linked to a millimetre band radar system, laser range-finder, crosswind sensor and IR and radiometer sensors on board. The millimetre band radar system mounted on the turret is capable of operating as a Missile Approach Warning System (MAWS) and also has a Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) and radar jammer. Four all-bearing Laser warning receivers (LWR) for the new fire-control system enables the Arjun is capable of shooting down helicopters. Battle Management System has a panoramic sight with the commander's station equipped with eight periscopes for 360° vision. Commander's independent thermal viewer, weapon station, position navigation equipment, and a full set of controls and displays have been linked by a digital data bus for improved fire control system. The tank is fitted with digital maps, improved cooling system to compensate for heat generated by the additional computer systems, FBCB2 capabilities, New radars, EW Systems, C4ISR Systems, Gun Control System (GCS) Integrated Battlefield Management System (IBMS) and Active protection System.
A Mobile Camouflage System has been developed and integrated into the Arjun as part of the 'Development of Defensive Aids System' project. in collaboration with Barracuda Camouflage Limited, to reduce the vehicle signature against all known sensors and smart munitions.
An Advanced Laser Warning Countermeasure System (ALWCS) for the fire control system has been developed. This consists of a laser warning system, Infra-Red (IR) jammer and aerosol smoke grenade system. This is being developed jointly with Elbit Systems Limited of Israel. The ALWCS has been integrated on Arjun MBT and trials have been carried out.
The engine and transmission are provided by German companies MTU and Renk respectively. The water-cooled engine generates 1,400 hp and is integrated with an Indian turbocharger and epicyclic train gearbox with four forward and 2 reverse gears. A local transmission is under trials and it is envisioned to ultimately replace the Renk-supplied unit. The tracks which were being supplied by German company Diehl are now being manufactured by L&T. The cooling pack has been designed for desert operations. The Arjun has a lower ground pressure than the lighter T-72, due to its design.
The Arjun features a hydro-pneumatic suspension. This coupled with the Arjun's stabilisation and fire control system allows the tank excellent first-hit probability against moving targets while on the move. Its ride comfort is highly praised. Though on the negative side, it is a more maintenance-intensive and expensive system, even if more capable than the simpler and cheaper torsion bar system utilised on many older tanks worldwide. During trials, the Arjun showcased its fording capability, by driving under 1.8 metres of water for 20 minutes.
A new 1500 hp engine is being developed that will eventually replace the present engine. A budgetary asignation for ₹400 million (US$5.8 million) has been assignated for the project, which is expected to be completed, at least, in five years.
Trials and exercise
In 1988-1989 two prototypes underwent automotive trials, which revealed major deficiencies in mobility, engine, and transmission.
The prototypes that underwent extensive mobility and armament trials, in 1996 and 1997 were found to perform below the acceptable standards and deficiencies were listed in the following areas:
- Accuracy of gun at battle ranges
- Mission reliability
- Ammunition lethality
- Containerisation of ammunition bin
- Emergency traverse
- Fire control system unable to function in temperatures above 42 degrees Celsius (108 degrees Fahrenheit).
The Arjun faced persistent problems of overheating and that "tank's main subsystems, the fire control system (FCS), the suspension system, integrated gunner's main sight, which includes a thermal imager and laser range-finder, which were rendered erratic and useless by the abnormally high peak internal temperature of beyond 55 °C in India. However, Major General H.M. Singh, a director in charge of trial and evaluation, said the user field trial report had certified the accuracy and consistency of the weapon system.
The Arjun tank was fielded during the Ashwamedha exercise in the deserts of Rajasthan in 2007. The army cited several deficiencies that included "deficient fire control system", "inaccuracy of its guns", "low speeds in tactical areas" and persistent "inability to operate in temperatures over 50 degrees Celsius".But most of these problems were rectified by DRDO and were improved within 2 years.This also eventually led to the development of Arjun mk 2, an advanced version of the Arjun mbt  In the 2007 winter trials, the Indian army deemed Arjun's performance unsatisfactory, including at least four engine failures leading the DRDO to suggest that the unsatisfactory performance of the engine during the winter trials was due to sabotage.
The Auxiliary User Cum Reliability Trials (AUCRT) of the Arjun MBT were conducted from September 2007 to summer of 2008. The Army reported that during the "accelerated user-cum-reliability trials", the Arjun "was found to have failure of power packs, low accuracy and consistency, failure of hydropneumatic suspension units, shearing of top rollers and chipping of gun barrels". However a later report published by the Government of India confirmed the success of the trial. The tank had been evaluated by an unknown reputed tank manufacturer who said that the Arjun had excellent mobility and firepower characteristics. DRDO installed an instrument to function as a black box in the Arjun, following allegations of attempts to sabotage its engine.
Subsequently in September 2008, the Indian Army signed a deal with Russia to import 347 T-90 tanks and license build a further 1000. Transfer of key T-90 technologies had also been agreed upon as a part of the deal.
In 2008, the Indian Army announced plans to acquire an entirely new main battle tank unrelated to the Arjun, to be inducted after 2020. The Indian Army held an "international seminar on future MBTs", during which the parameters and requirements of this future MBT were identified. As a result, Russia offered to team with India on developing this future tank.
In a testimony to the Indian Parliament in 2008 the Defence Minister said that army had indicated Arjun's performance as satisfactory and they will enter service with 140 Armoured Brigade at Jaisalmer.
A comparative trial was conducted by the Indian Army in March 2010, in which the Arjun was pitted against the T-90. The trial pitted one squadron of Arjuns against an equal number of T-90s. Each squadron was given three tactical tasks; each involved driving across 50 kilometres of desert terrain and then shooting at a set of targets. Each tank had to fire at least ten rounds, stationary and on the move, with each hit being carefully logged. In total, each tank drove 150 km and fired between 30-50 rounds. The trials also checked the tanks' ability to drive through water channels 1.5-1.8 metres deep.
A Ministry of Defence press release reported that the Arjun demonstrated excellent performance under various circumstances, such as driving cross-country over rugged sand dunes, detecting, observing and quickly engaging targets, accurately hitting targets – both stationary and moving, with pin pointed accuracy. It displayed accurate and quick target acquisition capability during day and night in all types of weather and shortest possible reaction time during combat engagements.
In 2017 it was reported that the DRDO had received the necessary imported spares to repair the faults that had grounded 75% of the fleet.
- Bhim SPH: A 155 mm self-propelled howitzer variant of the Arjun has been prototyped by fitting the South African Denel T6 turret, which comes with the G5 howitzer to the Arjun chassis. This project has been delayed as Denel has become embroiled in a corruption scandal in India, and hence the Indian Ministry of Defence has suspended the Bhim.
- 130 mm Catapult: The Indian Army wants to place the 130 mm catapult system on Arjun chassis. The trials were successfully concluded and it also found that the new system fared better than the M-46 Catapult on the Vijayata chassis in terms of mobility and the ability to absorb shocks during firing charged rounds. The system is also fitted with night vision systems and fire suppression systems available on the Arjun. An order of 40 systems will be placed by the Indian Army.
- A bridge layer tank (BLT) based on the Arjun chassis has also been displayed by the DRDO. Developed in cooperation with Indian industry, this bridge layer is deemed superior to the T-72 based units, as it can handle a larger load and uses a "scissors type" bridgelaying method, which does not raise the bridge high up into the air, and hence make it visible from afar. The R&DE(E) did this by replacing the tank's gun and turret with the bridge launcher. The bridge is cantilevered over chasms or across rivers to cover a distance of 26 m with a width of 4 m. The BLT-Arjun carries two-halves of a bridge. At a wet or dry gap, the launcher slides the two parts and docks them to each other in such a way that the far end of the second half touches the other bank. The BLT then crosses the bridge, turns around, retrieves the bridge after undocking its two-halves, folds it and is ready to move with the armoured column.
- Armoured engineering vehicles based on the Arjun are also assumed to be in development, as the Arjun induction will require units of a similar power-to-weight ratio or powerful enough to tow it, or recover it on the battlefield.
- Tank EX: A new tank obtained by coupling a T-72 chassis and an Arjun turret. Only prototypes have been built so far.
- An MBT Arjun Simulator comprising a driving simulator and turret simulator are being developed for troop level training.
Arjun Mk II
The Arjun Mark II is an advanced third generation tank. Its development was completed in 2 years owing to experience gained from developing the first version. It has outclassed the T-90 during comparative trials. Regarding the trials, a Ministry of Defence press release reported: "After many years of trial and tribulation it has now proved its worth by its superb performance under various circumstances, such as driving cross-country over rugged sand dunes, detecting, observing and quickly engaging targets, accurately hitting targets both stationary and moving, with pin pointed accuracy. Its superior fire-power is based on accurate and quick target acquisition capability during day and night in all types of weather and shortest possible reaction time during combat engagements". The Fire control system of the new tank has a hit probability over 90%, when firing on the move. The new tank also has improved communication systems and new navigation system.
Arjun Mark II has a total of 93 upgrades, including 13 major improvements. The major upgrades are missile-firing capability against long-range targets, panoramic sight with night vision to engage targets effectively at night, containerisation of the ammunition, enhanced main weapon penetration; additional ammunition types, explosive reactive armour, an advanced air-defence gun to engage helicopters; a mine plough, an advanced land navigation system and a warning system which can fire smoke grenades to confuse laser guidance. Other upgrades are an enhanced Auxiliary power unit providing 8.5 KW (from 4.5 KW) and an improved gun barrel, changes in the commander's panoramic sight with eye safe LRF, night vision capability including for driver, digital control harness, new final drive, track and sprocket. The Arjun Mk.2 has an advanced hydropneumatic suspension system which provides very good comfort to the crew, This tank is also fitted with auxiliary power unit which powers all systems when the main engine is turned off and It can be also fitted with a mine plough.
The new variant possesses superior missile firing capabilities and can fire missiles accurately up to a range of 2 km. The latest test consisted of an indigenously developed missile demonstrating target hit at a range of 5 km.
Arjun tank hull and turret has been modified to achieve the target weight of about 55 tons from 59-64 tonnes. Elbit is helping to enhance its firepower and battlefield survivability and Israel Military Industries is helping to augment Arjun Mk II's mobility, redesign its turret and hull and improve its production-line processes. Protection was improved by using improved Kanchan armour, along with the locally developed explosive reactive armour modules in the turret.
The tank underwent developmental trials in 2012, at Rajasthan's Pokhran field firing range which continued for two months with the focus on 19 parameters. DRDO started production of 124 Arjun Mark II tanks for the Indian Army after the success of these trials. The tank commander's thermal imaging night sight, the tank's operation in "hunter-killer" mode, the tank's missile firing capability from its main gun, and a laser missile warning and countermeasure system were among the crucial upgrades that will be tested.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Arjun Mk II tanks.|
In August 2014, The apex Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) renewed a Rs 6,600 crore clearance for 118 Arjun Mark II tanks. The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had already cleared 118 Arjun Mark IIs. That clearance had expired since the army has been evaluating the prototype tank for two years. The renewal allows the army to order the tanks from Heavy Vehicles Factory, Avadi, when trials are completed. Further support was extended to the Arjun tank project through the clearance of 40 self-propelled artillery guns, worth Rs 820 crore. This gun system, termed a "catapult", consists of a 130-millimetre gun mounted on an Arjun tank chassis, allowing it to keep up with tank columns and provide them fire support in battle.
Future MBT (FMBT) was originally a new tank design that was to be developed from scratch for induction in 2025 and beyond. The FMBT and the programme would have focused on weight reduction in the design and was to be a lighter tank of 50 tons,. However, the idea was dropped as no major breakthrough technology was realised in tank design that needed a complete design from scratch. As such it was decided to take the Arjun Mk II and upgrade the tank with new upgrades (suggested and followed by Israel's Merkava tanks). Future tanks are expected to be based on the Arjun and will incorporate new technologies just as most other tanks.
One of the concepts of FMBT disclosed by Dr. Avinash Chander (SA-to-RM) is to explore the possibility of a 2-man crew, sub-50ton tank with higher armour protection than Arjun Mk2. He said that DRDO is currently doing feasibility study of utilising the fighter aircraft's digital cockpit & weapons management systems. It can be assumed that this planned FMBT would have a fully automatic turret, larger ammunition storage, V-hull and smaller dimensions. Driver and Commander role would be retained for the 2 crews planned, with duplicated controls, with the Gunner/Loader roles completely automated.
40 130mm M-46 Catapults based on Arjun Chassis
Tanks of comparable role, performance and era
- Challenger 2: British main battle tank
- Ariete: Italian main battle tank
- AMX Leclerc: French main battle tank
- PT-91M: Polish main battle tank
- Type 99: Chinese main battle tank
- Type 96A: Chinese main battle tank
- Main Battle Tank 3000: Chinese main battle tank
- Merkava: Israeli main battle tank
- T-80: Soviet main battle tank
- T-90: Post-Soviet Russian main battle tank
- T-84: Post-Soviet Ukrainian main battle tank
- Type 90 Kyū-maru: Japanese main battle tank
- Type 10: Japanese main battle tank
- M1 Abrams: US main battle tank
- Leopard 2: German main battle tank
- K1 88-Tank: South Korean main battle tank
- Altay (tank): Turkish main battle tank
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