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Army set to place order for 118 Arjun Mark 1-As, the most potent tank in its inventory

The Mark 1-A, developed by DRDO, features 14 major improvements sought by the Army, including better firepower and new transmission systems.

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New Delhi: After numerous delays and extensive trials, the Indian Army is set to finally place an order for 118 indigenously manufactured Arjun Mark 1-A ‘Hunter Killers’, which will have all-weather capability and better fire power and stability than the Arjun main battle tank (MBT).

Army sources told ThePrint that the Mark 1-A, which weighs 68 tonnes and features a 120mm main gun, has cleared all tests, and that cost negotiations with its developer, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), are complete. The sources added that the Army has pushed the file to place the order, which will be done “soon”.

The move comes as a big boost for the Chennai-based Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE), a DRDO lab.

Also read: Tanks, fighter aircraft will soon be on their way out like Sony Walkman: Army chief

The major improvements

“The tank comes with 14 major improvements that the Army has sought, which will make it the most potent and self-protective tank in the Army’s inventory,” V. Balamurugan, director of the CVRDE, told ThePrint.

Balamurugan said the first tank will be rolled out from the factory within 30 months of the order of intent (the technical term used for the order) being placed.

He explained that four upgrades were made to the firepower of the tank, besides other developments, including new transmission systems.

The Mark 1-A includes an improved gunner’s main sight, integrated with automatic target tracking. This would enable the tank crew to track moving targets automatically, and engage them even when Arjun is on the move.

The Arjun Mk-1A’s gun is controlled by a computerised integrated fire control system, giving the tank has a high first round kill capability. The gun’s day-and-night stabilised sights, coupled with automatic target tracker, guarantee accurate engagement even in dynamic conditions, a senior DRDO official told ThePrint.

Other than the conventional fin stabilised armour piercing discarding sabot and high explosive squash head ammunition, the Mark 1-A comes with thermo baric and penetration-cum-blast ammunition.

Also read: Indian Army tanks now have sharper night vision equipment developed by DRDO

The Arjun saga

The Arjun MBT project was initiated in the mid-1970s, but the first two regiments of the tank were inducted into the Army starting 2004. Even then, they have never been used to their optimal capability because of a variety of reasons — including excess weight, issues with certain parts, and availability of spare parts.

The Arjun MBT had performed better than Russian T-90s during a desert trial conducted by the Army in 2010. However, reliability and availability weighed on the Army’s mind. The force argued that weight of the MBT, 62.5 tonnes, was a handicap as it meant that Arjun was too heavy for roads, bridges and canals along the Pakistan border.

The Army, in 2010, proposed an improved version of the tank, which would be called the Mark II, and was to have over 80 improvements, including 15 major ones.

However, this also meant that weight would increase further.

Also read: How Army-IAF fight over Apache helicopters cost India an extra Rs 2,500 crore

Cannon-launched guided missiles

In 2012, the DRDO offered the Arjun for trials with all the major enhancements, except one — a cannon-launched guided missile (CLGM).

The Army had insisted on having that capability, since other tanks like the T-90 also had it.

The DRDO roped in the Israelis and sourced the Lahat CLGM, which could conclusively hit targets between two and five kilometres away. The trials validated the CLGM’s laser designator.

However, the Army wanted a missile that could hit targets as close as close as 1.2 km, Balamurugan said.

He added that the Israelis took about a year to decide on producing it, but by then, the DRDO had decided to go in for an indigenous CLGM.

Talks between the DRDO and the Army continued until March 2018, and it was finally agreed that the next batch of Arjuns, to be called Mark 1-A, would be supplied without the missile firing capability.

“The process for building that (CLGM) is already on, and could actually be integrated on the Mark 1-A as they start rolling out,” Balamurugan said.

As far as weight is concerned, he said that though the Mark 1-A weighs more, it has been designed in such a way that pressure exerted at specific points is much lower.

Also read: Indian Army, Air Force and Navy must work out a joint media policy for information warfare


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  1. What a forking waste of money. Can these bellends stop fighting and start supporting each other please. The world is not a childhood playground ffs

  2. Paltry orders for world class indigenously developed weapons don’t support the Indian Defense Services Or the indigenous Defense manufacturing and Defense R&D.

  3. It’s great that both Tejas and Arjun are now coming quickly upto user requirements.We must ensure their production for at least 15 years. If we add the Dhanush indigenous artillery gun to this list, it is an impressive achievement by our designers and manufacturing professionals.

  4. NOTE: That the proposed Arjun can fire imported ammunition and live to tell the tale does not meanArjun is next generation any more than adapting Tejas to fire next general munitions to augment its woeful lack of power and range.

  5. Like Tejas, this reminds me of cave men sharpening their cudgels into battle axes when they face an enemy with bows and arrows. Cudgels are home made, battle tested and bequeathed by generations of investment into this technology.

    • You buy tech that is enough to fight enemy. That doesn’t have to be state of the art. Our enemy do not have the tech that we are fielding.

  6. Some major misinformation here. The earlier Arjuns inducted in the Army also have a computerized IFCS and ability to hit moving targets accurately as was demonstrated in trials with the T-90 which was found inferior on all major parameters to the Made in India product.

    Arjun is a heavy tank just like the Su30MKI is a heavy fighter. That does not mean it has “excess weight”. If Indian logistics and infrastructure cant keep pace and upgrade that is not DRDO’s fault. Availability of spares on Arjun is an issue? Not for Soviet/Russian equipment?

    The missile firing capability was a bogus QR put in to stymie DRDO. Apart from T-90s does the T-72 of the Indian Army have a CLGM capability? US, UK, MBTs have done just fine in combat without a CLGM and Israel and Germany have only recently acquired CLGM capability as their MBT platforms evolve.

    All major weapon systems evolve and improve over time in every advanced military. So to suggest that there were deficiencies in the earlier version which prevented it from being used optimally is hogwash. The Army’s myopia, laziness and lack of true strategic vision in ensuring that a Made In India product that is actually world class succeeds is the culprit here.

    • I must disagree because Arjun tank far from being world class is actually totally inadequate and obsolete compared to other tanks.
      It’s APFSDS feels like it’s from the 1960s, it doesn’t have blast doors or blowout panels, it doesn’t have wind sensors nor does it have laser illumination detectors.
      There are major flaws in the armour design in the turrent, lack of adequate composite protection, inadequate fire control systems and also the complete lack of of APS which is must for any modern tank and shortfalls CITV for the tanks
      It still requires lot of upgrades,design modifications and indigenously developed spare parts, until then it can’t be considered an adequate Tank

      • “Totally inadequate and obsolete compared to other tanks”
        – Really?!!!
        If all you want to do is troll in the comments section that is your birthright- especially since that does not require a world class smartphone or PC, minimum will do. In case you want to have an intelligent discussion consider this:
        a. There is actual empirical evidence from trials that the Arjun even in its previous avatar was found superior to the T-90. Those trials were done by the Indian Army not DRDO. Please file a PIL in Supreme Court against the Army for faking the results if you really believe what you wrote.
        b. Whipping out a shopping list of nice to have features – APS, CITV etc, etc. – you forgot IVIS – none of which were present in the earlier models of any of the tanks you consider world class shows actual understanding of the topic. Major weapon systems evolve over time. Both the Indian Army and IAF use this “shopping list” mentality to sabotage Made in India products. Keep importing what you think is world class and remain a 2nd rate military power forever.
        c. Talking about protection flaws and armor issues on the Arjun when you have 90% Russian T-series tanks in the Army whose turrets are blown right off frequently in combat is really rich. All world class MBTs have areas of vulnerability because of the protection-mobility-firepower tradeoff. Again a simple to understand constraint for those with true knowledge
        d. You want your shopping list? Then stop ordering 100/120 units of an Arjun. order 1000 so it makes economic sense to invest in all the upgrades. Right now it is you the Indian taxpayer who is being shafted by these tiny order quantities which do no allow for any indepth investments and growth of the industry ecosystem.

        .Finally, Organisation, tactics, training all play a greater role in determining the success of a combat engagement than some feature on a shopping list.

  7. Isn’t the army chief who said that tanks and jets will fade away like Sony Walkman. Indeed it’s true. Then why wasting the precious resources?

    • That will happen when your grandchildren will start joining army ,till then you need them to save your ass.

      • I guess you were in deep sleep when Balakot & air skirmishes happened. In this 5th gen warfare, battles won’t last more than a week. You get your best and fastest jets, missiles struck in the epicenter and demoralize the emeny. Use of armored will be highly limited. Even cold start doctrine is all about this. Limited and highly impactable push!

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