Indian Arjun Mk.1A MBT ready to go into production

The Arjun Mk.1A, a 68-tonne indigenously designed main battle tank, is declared ready for production and to be inducted in the Indian army. It will be displayed at the 11th biennial edition of DefExpo India 2020 scheduled to be held in the Uttar Pradesh capital of Lucknow in February, Indian Defence Update writes.

Indian Arjun Mk.1A MBT ready to go into production
Arjun Mk.II demonstrated at DefExpo India 2018. The Mk.1A is a Mk.II minus the missile firing capability (Picture source: Army Recognition)

The Indian Armoured Corps has cleared the tank after successful completion of the final integration tests conducted earlier in 2019 in the western sector of Rajasthan, Indian Defence Update reports. Arjun Mk.1A is an improved variant of Arjun Mk.1, whose two regiments (124 tanks) are currently in service.

Scientists of Chennai-based Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE), a laboratory of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), are the architects of this improved version of Arjun, and the Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF) in Avadi is soon expected to start production after receiving the order.

Officials said 72 improvements were made to Arjun MBT Mk.1, of which 14 were major upgrades that were specifically requested by the army and led to the Mk.1A version. Under firepower segment, four upgrades have been made: an improved Gunner’s Main Sight (GMS) integrated with Automatic Target Tracking (ATT) has been fitted, which helps the crew to track moving target automatically making it easy for the gunner to fire even when the tank is on the move. The Commander’s Panoramic Sight (CPS Mk II) has been integrated with Thermal Imager that enables the commander to effectively conduct surveillance both in day and night through eye-safe Laser Range Finder with an advanced Hunter Killer Capability.

Besides, additional varieties of ammunition were incorporated to enhance the lethality of the enemy battle tank. Other than conventional Fin Stabilised Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot (FSAPDS) and High Explosive Squash Head (HESH) ammunition, Thermo Baric (TB) and Penetration Cum Blast (PCB) ammunition have been developed. A Containerised Ammunition Bin with Individual Shutter (CABIS) that gives crew enhanced protection from inadvertent burning of ammunition stored in the ready round bin. The hot gases generated due to ammunition burning is vented out by blow-off panels from the roof of the turret, thus saving the crew.

Lastly, the vehicle was upgraded with a Remote Controlled Weapon Station that provides the loader with the capability of engaging ground targets and aerial targets from the protective envelope of the tank armour. It also provides an additional capability to fight in an urban area called Hatch-closed firing.

The tank will have a crew of four — commander, gunner, loader and driver. The Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA) panels are provided for effective protection against the ever-evolving anti-tank threats like shoulder-fired anti-tank grenades and missiles. These panels have been mounted along the frontal arc of the hull and the turret. Track Width Mine Plough (TWMP) is a significant addition which provides the capability for the battle tank to cross minefields with ease as the plough mounted to the front of the vehicle creates a mine-free path by ploughing through mines and throwing them to the sides of the tank.

Besides, Arjun Mk-1A has protection against chemical attacks. A special chemical sensor is mounted to detect the presence of harmful toxic chemicals in the atmosphere around the tank. The sensor detects the harmful chemicals, triggers an alarm and the Nuclear Chemical warfare system increases the pressure in the tank compartment to a little higher than in the atmosphere thus preventing toxic air from entering the tank. The tank crew get air through a particulate filter for their survival.

Other new upgrades include Laser Warning and Counter Measure System that protects the crew by creating a smokescreen between itself and the enemy and Anti Infra-Red / Anti Thermal Imaging paints that reduce the signature of the tank when viewed using an IR/TI camera or goggles making the tank difficult to be detected by enemies. The Roof Mounted Driver’s Seat protects the driver from shocks and enhances driving comfort.

To counter added weight, an Advanced Running Gear System has been developed where the hydro-pneumatic suspension system was completely redesigned to enhance agility of the Arjun MBT Mk.1A. Tweaking the final drive also ensured the required agility of the tank.

Meanwhile, an Advanced Land Navigation System is added to provide enhanced navigation capability of the tank in desert terrains during war. It provides accurate information of where the tanks is using either Inertial Navigation or GPS or both and where the tank needs to go in the absence of any signage in the war theatre.

An uncooled Night Vision camera for driver has also been provided. The earlier Image Intensifier (obsolete technology) for the tank driver has been replaced with a un-cooled Thermal imager with binocular sights for the driver thus providing him with a capability to travel at reasonable speeds even in pitch-dark conditions.