Indian army to at last order 118 Arjun Mark 1A main battle tanks

Already announced in February 2019, the order for 118 Arjun Mk.IA tanks is finally about to be finalized, at last. The Arjun Mark 1A, developed by DRDO, features 14 major improvements of the Mk.I sought by the Army, including better firepower and new transmission systems, The Print reports. The move comes as a big boost for the Chennai-based Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE), a DRDO laboratory.

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Arjun Mk.IA MBT (Picture source: Army Recognition)

“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.

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

Other than the conventional fin-stabilized armor-piercing discarding sabot and high explosive squash head ammunition, the Mark 1-A comes with thermobaric and penetration-cum-blast ammunition.

The Arjun 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 archer prince who is the main protagonist of the Indian epic Mahabharata.

The Arjun features a 120 mm main rifled gun with indigenously developed armor-piercing fin-stabilized discarding-sabot ammunition, one PKT 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun, and an NSVT 12.7 mm machine gun. The upgraded Arjun can fire the laser homing anti-tank (LAHAT) missile that had a tandem warhead, which is capable of defeating all types of modern armor.

The tank is powered by an MTU multi-fuel diesel engine rated at 1,400 HP and can reach 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 armor is claimed to be much higher than available in comparable third-generation tanks.

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. 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. However, in 2012 and 2016 the Indian Army has chosen instead to order 464 new T-90MS (nicknamed "Bhishma") tanks for eight tank regiments, increasing the total number of T-90s in Indian service to over 2,000 and undermining further procurement of the Arjun.

The Arjun entered service with the Indian Army in 2004. The tanks were first inducted into the 43rd Armoured Regiment, Indian Army Armoured Corps.

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