Arjun (tank)

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Arjun
Arjun MKI Rajpath.jpg
Arjun MBT Mk.1 (Republic Day Parade 2010).
TypeMain battle tank
Place of originIndia
Production history
DesignerCombat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment, DRDO
Designed1972–1996
ManufacturerHeavy Vehicles Factory
Unit cost55.9 crore (US$7.8 million)[1]
Produced2004–present
No. built125 (124 Mk.1 and 1 Mk.1A in service)[2][3][4][5][6][7]
VariantsSee Variants
Specifications
MassMk.1 : 58.5 tonnes (57.6 long tons; 64.5 short tons)
Mk.1A: 68 tonnes (67 long tons; 75 short tons)[8]
LengthMk.1 : 10.19 metres (33 ft 5 in)
Mk.1A/Mk.2 : 10.64 metres (34 ft 11 in)
WidthMk.1 : 3.85 metres (12 ft 8 in)
Mk.1A/Mk.2 : 3.95 metres (13 ft 0 in)
HeightMk.1 : 2.32 metres (7 ft 7 in)
Mk.1A/Mk.2 : ~2.8 metres (9 ft 2 in)
Crew4 (commander, gunner, loader and driver)

ArmourERA, NERA, Kanchan armour (classified)
Main
armament
1× 120 mm rifled tank gun capable of firing LAHAT, SAMHO,[9] HEAT, APFSDS, HESH, PCB & Thermobaric Rounds
(Rate of fire : 6–8 rounds/minute, total: 39 containerized rounds)[10][11]
Secondary
armament
NSV 12.7mm AA MG (1000 rounds)
1× Mag 7.62 mm Tk715 coaxial MG (3000 rounds)[10]
12 × smoke grenades
EngineMTU MB 838 Ka-501 V10; 1,400 hp (1,044 kW) liquid-cooled turbocharged diesel engine

CVRDE - BEML 1500 HP (1,118 kW) V12 diesel engine (Testing Phase)[12]
Power/weightMk.1A : 24 hp/tonne[13]
TransmissionRenk epicyclic train gearbox, 4 forward + 2 reverse gears

CVRDE Automatic Transmission - In Development
SuspensionHydropneumatic
Ground clearance0.45 metres (1 ft 6 in)
Fuel capacity1,610 litres (350 imp gal; 430 US gal)
Operational
range
Mk.1A : 450 kilometres (280 mi)[10][14][15][16]
Maximum speed Mk.1 : ~70 km/h (43 mph)
Mk.1A : 65 km/h (40 mph)[10]
60 km/h (37 mph) cross country[10][17][18][19]

The Arjun (Devanagari: अर्जुन, pronounced [ɐɽˈdʑʊn] in Classical Sanskrit) is an Indian third generation main battle tank developed by the Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE) of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), for the Indian Army.[20][21] The tank is named after Arjun, the archer prince who is the main protagonist of the Indian epic Mahabharata.

The Arjun main battle tank entered service with the Indian Army in 2004.[22] The first Arjun regiment was formed in 2009, the 43rd Armoured Regiment of the Indian Army was the first to recive Arjun main battle tanks.[22][23]

The Arjun features a 120 mm rifled main 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 70 km/h (43 mph) and a cross-country speed of 40 km/h (25 mph). It has a four-man crew: commander, gunner, loader and driver.

First in 2010 and subsequently in 2013, the Indian Army carried out comparative trials in the Thar Desert of Rajasthan, pitting the newly inducted Arjun MK1 against the frontline T-90 tanks of the Indian Army, in which the Arjun has reportedly exhibited a better performance in accuracy and mobility.[24][25] The Fire-control system (FCS) originally developed for the Arjun main battle tank has been integrated into the T-90 tanks built under transfer of technology (ToT) in India by the Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF) at Avadi.[26] On 9 August 2010 The Army showed interest to place an order for 124 Arjun Mk.2 Tanks in addition to 124 Mk.1 ordered earlier.[2][27][28][29]

History[edit]

Planning and development[edit]

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.[30]

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.[31][32]

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.[33] However, almost all of these systems have since been replaced by indigenous systems or are being supplied by Indian companies.[34][35] Recent comments from Army sources indicate that the Russian T-90S will form the mainstay of its future force, despite the 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 374 crore or US$52.4 million in 2019) for the initial design in May 1974,[30] by 1995, DRDO had spent 300 crore (equivalent to 14 billion or US$201.7 million in 2019) on development due to changing requirements and inflationary cost increases.[36]

However, DRDO succeeded in bridging more than several decades worth of technology gap in producing a Generation III tank at a lower development cost than that of other countries.

Production and deployment[edit]

The Indian Army ordered 124 Arjuns in 2010,[37] expected to cost US$471.2 million.[1]

Early development versions of the Arjun were held by 43 Armoured Regiment which were shown in display in the Republic Day Parade of 2001.[38] The first batch of 16 production version Arjun tanks were received in 2004[22] and they were provided as a squadron to the 43 Armoured Regiment.[39] The regiment was later made up to 45 tanks on 25 May 2009 making it the first Arjun regiment of the Indian Army.[22][40] More than 100 tanks have been delivered to the Indian Army as of June 2011.[41]

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. Ministry of Defence (MoD) concluded the negotiations with Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) for 118 unit of Arjun Mk.1A for Indian Army Armoured Corps at an estimated amount of ₹6,600 crore (US$888.7 million) with order of intent likely to be place at any moment that will also include two-year engineering and support package with maintenance, spares and simulator training for the crew members.

Delivery of first Arjun Mk.1A will start 30 months after signing of contract with all 118 units to be delivered within four to five years.[42] MoD has cleared induction of 118 Arjun Mark 1A at the cost of ₹8,400 crore as of 12 February 2021.[43]

Upgrades[edit]

Arjun MBT undergoing proposed modifications and improvements for Mk.2 variant at Heavy Vehicle Factory.

As part of improving the Arjun to the Mark 2 variant, DRDO is continuing to develop new technology systems for MBT Arjun, to improve performance in areas like automatic target locating, tracking and destruction.[44] The Arjun Mk.2 variant is being developed in coordination with & involvement of the Indian Army and will feature several modifications that are being sought by it.[6]

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 such as laser warning, IR jammer, and aerosol smoke grenade system.[45][46]

CVRDE has developed tank simulators.[44] MBT Arjun Simulator comprises driving simulator and turret simulator that are being developed for troop level training.[47]

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.[citation needed]

The upgrade also includes a new improved 1500 hp engine.[48][49] An anti-helicopter round is under development as well.[31]

Specifications[edit]

Armament[edit]

Arjun Mk.2 remote controlled weapon system

Armed with a 120 mm rifled gun, the Arjun is capable of firing APFSDS (kinetic energy penetrator) rounds, HE, HEAT, High Explosive Squash Head (HESH), Penetration-Cum-Blast (PCB) rounds, Thermobaric Rounds (TB) rounds at the rate of 6–8 rounds per minute. The Arjun can also fire the Israeli developed semi-active laser-guided, gun-launched LAHAT missile, which 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.[50] The Arjun can carry 39 rounds in special blast-proof canisters with blow out panels.

The Arjun uses a manual loader and has a crewman to reload the gun.

120 mm main rifled gun[edit]

120MM Rifled Gun of Arjun Tank

The Arjun is equipped with an 120 mm rifled gun which can fire a variety of rounds including ATGMs with high level of accuracy. The gun has an effective life span of 500 Full Effective Charge compared to 250 full effective charge of T-72 and T-90 tanks of the Indian army.[51] During trails the gun was found to be very accurate by hitting an 1 m x 1 m at an distance of 1.5 km. The gun was found to be very effective and accurate with the penetration-cum-blast and thermobaric ammunition

APFSDS ammunition[edit]

The Arjun is equipped with an indigenous tungsten alloy based APFSDS round which has an penetration 500 mm RHA.[1]

Penetration-cum-blast (PCB) and Thermobaric (TB) ammunition[edit]

PCB round of Arjun tank

Penetration-cum-Blast (PCB) and Thermobaric (TB) ammunition have been specially designed for the Arjun Tank by Pune-based DRDO laboratories, namely the Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) and High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL). Relatively cheap to manufacture and maintain, these projectiles provide performance superior to conventional HESH and HEAT rounds.

The PCB projectile penetrates the protective layer of the target followed by an internal blast which causes collateral damage to the enemy. It has an electromechanical fuse which functions only after sensing the impact at a predetermined delay. The PCB projectile has lethal capability of penetrating reinforced concrete wall of thickness over 500 mm at a range exceeding 1.5 km range, and is highly effective against hardened and armoured targets.[52]

The TB round, when hitting a target, produces a blast overpressure and heat energy for over a few hundred milliseconds, which causes collateral damage to enemy fortified structures like bunkers and buildings. It is suitable for urban warfare, and has been designed to engage soft-skinned targets and against armoured targets.[53]

During development, these varieties of ammunition were extensively evaluated against different simulated targets– tanks, armour plates, concrete structures and fortifications. The trials were conducted jointly with the Army and were aimed to demonstrate the effectiveness of the ammunition on a derelict tank fitted with instrumentation to measure the shocks, blast pressure and temperature at various locations and an advanced imaging system.[54][55] During trials both these rounds were proven to be effective against armoured and fortified targets.[53] The projectile[which?] also had remarkable accuracy in engaging targets over 1 m × 1 m (3 ft 3 in × 3 ft 3 in) cross section.[citation needed]

ATGM[edit]

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 indigenous ATGM called SAMHO was developed to meet the army's requirement. DRDO completed the feasibility study by 2004 and started developing SAMHO in 2014 as part of Cannon-Launched Missile Development Programme to replace LAHAT that can be launched from multiple-platform and mitigate the minimum engagement range of 1,200 meters. SAMHO or Semi-Active Mission Homing has been developed by the ARDE in collaboration with HEMRL and the Instruments Research and Development Establishment (IRDE). It covers 4 km in range and uses tandem-charge high-explosive anti-tank warheads that are capable of destroying explosive reactive armour protection. SAMHO uses semi-active laser homing as guidance and can destroy low flying helicopters and hardened point structures. The SAMHO ATGM is one of the key upgrade feature for Arjun Mark 1A.[56][57][58][59]

On 23 September 2020, under technical evaluation trials for the Indian Army, DRDO successfully test-fired SAMHO ATGM from Arjun MBT at KK Ranges, Armoured Corps Centre and School (ACC&S), Ahmednagar.[60] On 1 October 2020, second successful test of SAMHO ATGM was conducted that can cover a target distance of 1.5 km to 5 km.[61]

Fire control and navigation[edit]

Arjun gunnery simulator

The computerised fire control system aboard Arjun has been jointly developed by DRDO with Israeli company Elbit.[62] 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.[32] The combined day sight from Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and the thermal imager (formerly from Sagem, now reported to be from El-Op) constitute the gunner's primary sight.The commanders primary sight is an 3rd generation Thermal Imaging camera and the gunner has an 2nd generation Thermal Imaging camera which gives the tank hunter killer capability in night time. The tank has an laser range finder which has an maximum range of 10km.[2]

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. It has a panoramic sight with the commander's station equipped with eight periscopes for 360° vision. The 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.[63]

The Arjun has an auxiliary power unit to operate weapon systems in silent watch mode as well.[31][64][65]

The Advanced Fire Control System (AFCS) is linked to a millimetre band radar system, laser range-finder and designator, crosswind sensor, IR, observation systems and sensors, real-time command, beyond-vision-range target engaging and radiometer sensors on board.

Arjun is also equipped with an Advanced Laser Warning Countermeasure System (ALWCS) for the fire control system, jointly developed with Elbit Systems Limited of Israel. The system comprises four all-bearing Laser warning receivers (LWR) for the new fire-control system which enables the Arjun to of shoot down helicopters. The ALWCS has been integrated on Arjun MBT and trials have been carried out.[47][66]

Arjun's Integrated Battlefield Management System (IBMS), a state-of-the-art battlefield management system, incorporated into Arjun, co-developed by DRDO and Elbit, allows it to network with other fighting units.

It also incorporates GPS/INS-based navigation systems and sophisticated frequency hopping radios.[67] 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.[31][64][65]

Protection[edit]

Armour

The Arjun uses DMR-1700 high hardened steel instead of regular RHA steel used on most of the tanks as an base plate.The DMR-1700 which was developed by Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory, Hyderabad has shown more advantages compared to RHA steel like lower weight and more corrosion resistance.From the ballistic test it is seen that DMR-1700 steel exhibits improved ballistic performance of about 25 percent against 7.62 AP ammunition and 20 percent against long rod Armour-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot rounds as compared to RHA steel and also possess easy weldability and half the cost of RHA steel. [3]

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.[68] 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 includes Israeli APFSDS rounds.[68] The tank has NBC protection and Automatic fire detection and suppression system for enhanced crew protection and survival.[69]

The Arjun Mk.2 variant has a new honeycomb design of Non-Explosive and Non-Energetic Reactive Armour (NERA), nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) protection equipment, mine sweeps and an automatic fire fighting system.[70]

Active and Passive Protection:

Arjun is equipped with a Mobile Camouflage System which has been developed and integrated into Arjun's design as part of the 'Development of Defensive Aids System' project developed in collaboration with Barracuda Camouflage Ltd., to reduce the vehicle signature ensuring decrease in detection by infrared, thermal and radar and all known sensors and smart munitions. Planned improvements include Electro-optical/IR "dazzlers".[47]

A millimetre band radar system mounted on the turret is capable of operating as a missile approach warning system (MAWS) and is equipped with a radar warning receiver (RWR) and radar jammer. The tank is also fitted with an infrared (IR) jammer.[71]

Arjun mk.1A is equipped with an Advanced Laser Warning Countermeasure System (ALWCS) for the fire control system, jointly developed with Elbit Systems Limited of Israel.[71]

Laser warning receiver

The system comprises four all-bearing Laser warning receivers (LWR) which alerts the tank when being pointed by an laser range finder (the laser warning receiver prevents the enemy from getting the distance data between the tank which diminishes the chance of getting hit by an ATGM or by an enemy tank). When the system gets pointed out by an laser range finder or laser guided ordnance it automatically deploys aerosol smoke grenades which blocks the laser and prevents the tank from being hit.[71]

The Arjun has separate canisterised ammunition bins with individual shutters for storing the ammunitions (similar to Merkava tank) and the Arjun has blow out panels which reduces the high pressure created by an ammunition fire.[70]

Blow out panels of Arjun tank

The Arjun is equipped with an instant fire and explosion suppression system. It was developed by Centre for Fire, Explosive and Environment Safety. The indigenous development of this system is considered to be a breakthrough in the field of fire/explosion protection of this tank this system along with the canisterised ammunition bins makes the tank less vulnerable to ammunition fire inside the crew compartment. The system is capable of suppressing hydrocarbon fuel fire/explosion resulting from an enemy hit on the tank or due to any malfunctioning of the engine, transmission or any electrical short circuiting. The system is based on infra-red detectors for the detection of fire/explosion in the crew compartment of the battle tank and a continuous type of linear thermal detector popularly known as fire-wire for the engine compartment. Halon-1301 has been employed as a fire extinguishing medium. The system is capable of detection and suppression of hydrocarbon fuel fire/explosion in the crew compartment within 200 milliseconds and in the engine compartment within 15 seconds thereby enhancing the chances of survivability of the crew and battle effectiveness of the tank.[72]

An hard kill based active protection system is also under development which will have an 360 coverage and can engage threats up to an distance of 150M.[4]

Mobility[edit]

Prime Minister Narendra Modi rides in Arjun Mk.1 at Longewala in Jaisalmer

The engine and transmission are provided by German companies MTU and Renk respectively.[73] The water-cooled engine generates 1,400 hp and is integrated with an Indian turbocharger and epicyclic train gearbox with four forward and two reverse gears.[74] A local transmission is under trials and it is envisioned to ultimately replace the Renk supplied unit.[73] The cooling pack has been designed for desert operations.

The tracks which were being supplied by German company Diehl are now indigenously being manufactured by Larsen & Toubro.[73]

The Arjun has a lower ground pressure than the lighter T-72 and T-90, in spite of being heavier, due to its design.[73]

The Arjun features a hydro-pneumatic suspension[75] which is more advanced than other MBTs which have a torsion bar or helical spring suspension systems.[76] This coupled with the Arjun's stabilization and fire control system allows the tank excellent first-hit probability against moving targets while on the move.[75] Its ride comfort is highly praised.[75] On the negative side, it is a more maintenance-intensive and expensive system, despite being more capable than the simpler and cheaper torsion bar suspension systems used on many tanks.[77]

During trials, the Arjun showcased its fording capability, by driving under 1.8 metres of water for 20 minutes.[78]

A new 1500 hp engine and an automatic transmission system is being developed that will eventually replace the present engine and transmission system which were being imported from Germany. A budgetary assignation for 400 million (US$5.6 million) has been assigned for the project, which is expected to be completed in five years.[79]

Trials and exercise[edit]

Arjun MBT Mk.1 undergoing bump track test at Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment

In 1988–1989, two prototypes underwent automotive trials, which revealed major deficiencies in mobility, engine, and transmission .[80]

The prototypes that underwent extensive mobility and armament trials, in 1996 and 1997 were found to perform below the acceptable standards and defecient due to the imported Fire Control System, Engine and transmission system which failed to perform in the scorching Rajasthan desert.[80]

The Arjun faced persistent problems of overheating of the imported 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. All the major imported systems were then replaced by indigenously modified/license built systems which perfectly matched the requirements made by the army.

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.[81][82][83][84]

However,the army found some minor defects and added new requirements in the tank and suggested the DRDO to build an new tank based on the Arjun.This eventually led to the development of Arjun Mk.2, an advanced version of the Arjun MBT[85] .[86][87]

Arjun MBT Mk.1 demonstrating 360 degree neutral steering capability

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.[88]

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, which is about the same level as Russian T-90, if not better.[88][89]

Indian Army Armoured Corps has cleared and ordered the upgraded Arjun Mk.1A after successful completion of final integration tests conducted on 2019 in Rajasthan. It comes with 72 improvements over Arjun Mk.1 with 14 major upgrades. Arjun Mk.1A is undergoing mass production at Heavy Vehicle Factory.

Operational history[edit]

During the initial operations the Arjun suffered major operational challenges due to the lack of imported spares.[90]

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.[91]

Variants[edit]

Induction ceremony of Arjun MK-1A MBT at CVRDE, Avadi on 14 February 2021
Arjun Mark 1 Alpha
  • Arjun Mk.1A: (previously known as Arjun MK2) A 68 tonne improved variant of Arjun Mark 1, specifically requested by the Indian Army for better fire power, protection, improved weight distribution and mobility. Some of the major upgrades are Remote controlled weapon station (RCWS), improved Gunner's Main Sight (GMS) integrated with Automatic Target Tracking (ATT) which are all connected to a computerized fire control system enhancing the first round kill capability that guarantees accurate engagement even under adverse conditions, panoramic sight (CPS Mark II) integrated uncooled thermal imager and night vision camera with binocular sights, laser rangefinder for an advanced hunter killer capability, Track Width Mine plough (TWMP), Containerized Ammunition Bin with Individual Shutter (CABIS), Laser Warning and Countermeasure System (LWCMS), anti-infrared / anti-Thermal Imaging paints, advanced land navigation system, more powerful 8.5 kW capacity Auxiliary power unit (APU) and an enhanced communication system capable of real-time data transmission. The hull and turret of Arjun Mk.1A have been modified to give a lower silhouette making detection more difficult, while it also supports the newly developed Thermo-Baric (TB) and Penetration-cum-Blast (PCB) ammunition. DRDO developed cannon launched guided missile that will replace the LAHAT will be integrated with Arjun Mk.1A after they start rolling out from the production line. To improve mobility due to additional increase in weight, an Advanced Running Gear System (ARGS) has been developed and the hydropneumatic suspension system is completely redesigned to enhance agility. The number of foreign made imported components are also reduced from 63 to 54 percent.[92][93]
  • 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.[94][95]
Model of Bridge Layer Tank (BLT) based on Arjun chassis
  • Bridge Layer Tank (BLT) based on the Arjun chassis has also been displayed by the DRDO.[96] 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 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.[97]
  • Armoured Engineering Vehicle (AEV) 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.[98]
  • Tank EX: Prototypes have been built for a new tank obtained by coupling a T-72 chassis and an Arjun turret.

Arjun Mk-1A[edit]

The Arjun Mark-1A (previously known as Arjun MK2) is an advanced third generation tank developed from the Arjun MK1.[99][citation needed] Its development was completed withinn 2 years owing to experience gained from developing the first version.[100] It has outclassed the T-90 during comparative trials.[101]

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.[102]

Arjun Mk1-A 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.[103]

Other upgrades are an enhanced auxiliary power unit providing 8.5 kW (from 4.5 kW) and an improved gun barrel,[104] changes in the commander's panoramic sight with eye safe LRF, night vision capability including one for the driver, digital control harness, new final drive, track and sprocket.[105]

The Arjun Mk1A has an advanced hydropneumatic suspension system which provides very good comfort to the crew. Arjun Mk.2 is also fitted with an auxiliary power unit which powers all systems when the main engine is turned off.[102]

The new variant possesses superior missile firing capabilities and can fire missiles accurately up to a range of 2,000 meters.[106][107] The latest test consisted of an indigenously developed missile demonstrating target hit at a range of 5,000 meters.

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.1A mobility, redesign its turret and hull and improve its production-line processes.

Protection levels are increased by using improved Kanchan armour, along with the locally developed explosive reactive armour modules in the turret.[citation needed]

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 readying the production line for manufacture of 124 Arjun Mk.2 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.[108]

The Mark-II version completed most user trials in 2012 and 2013 and displayed impressive performance. The new features of the Arjun Mk.1A received favourable responses[109][110]

In August 2014, The apex Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) renewed a ₹6,600 crore clearance for 118 Arjun Mark II tanks. The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had already cleared 118 Arjun Mk.1A's. 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 ₹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.[111]

FMBT[edit]

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 be focused on weight reduction in the design and was to be a lighter tank of 50 tons.[112][113]

The FMBT was cleared for technology development phase by standing committee on defence in 2020. The DRDO has requested additional funding of 5000 crore rupees for the FMBT project. The FMBT awaits Preliminary Staff Qualitative Requirements (PSQR) from the army which is crucial for the design & development of the tank and for sanctioning the project.[114][115]

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-50 ton tank with higher armour protection than Arjun Mk.2. He said that DRDO is currently doing feasibility study of using the fighter aircraft's digital cockpit & weapons management systems.

The FMBT is set to feature an Bharat power pack which consists of an indigenously developed 1800hp diesel engine and indigenous transmission system. And the FMBT is set to feature an 120mm smooth bore gun which can fire all the types of ammunitions including ATGMS to replace the current 120mm rifled guns used in Arjun series.[116]

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.[117]

Operators[edit]

See also[edit]

Tanks of comparable role, performance and era[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]