The Arjun tank acquires a growing fan club - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Sunday 15 June 2008

The Arjun tank acquires a growing fan club

(Photo at left: Mahajan Ranges, Rajasthan, 29th June 2006. Major General BS Grewal, GOC 33 Armoured Division, posing with his target after firing two rounds from an Arjun tank. The holes made by the armour piercing rounds are visible in the upper part of the bulls-eye. With Gen Grewal is Maj Gen HM Singh, the officer who has spearheaded the Arjun's development for 28  years)

(Photo at right: The same day, Maj Gen Shiv Jaswal, Chief of Staff, 10 Corps with his target. This was the first time he had ever driven or fired a tank)

by Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 16th June 08

India’s own Arjun tank is finally proving its worth. Despite continuing criticism from an army establishment that judges the Arjun far more strictly than foreign purchases like the T-90, the Arjun is successfully completing a gruelling 5000-kilometre trial in the Rajasthan desert. During six months of trials, the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO), along with tank crews from the army’s 43 Armoured Regiment, have proved not just the Arjun’s endurance, but also the ability of its computer-controlled gun to consistently blow away suitcase-sized targets placed more than a kilometre away.

The army’s Directorate General of Mechanised Forces (DGMF), which must eventually okay the tank, is not impressed but key decision-makers are rallying behind the Arjun. The head of the Pune-based Southern Command, Lieutenant General N Thamburaj, strongly backs the Arjun. On a visit to the Mahajan Field Firing Ranges in Rajasthan to watch his troops exercising, Lt Gen Thamburaj noticed the Arjun firing nearby. After walking across, he was invited by the DRDO team to drive and fire the tank. Half an hour later, the general was an Arjun backer; two holes in the target he aimed at testified that a soldier without previous experience operating tanks could get into the Arjun and use it effectively.

Business Standard has evidence of many more such incidents. On 29th June 2006, the commander of the elite 31 Armoured Division, Major General BS Grewal, visited the Mahajan Ranges along with a colleague, Major General Shiv Jaswal. Both drove and fired the Arjun for the first time that day; the two rounds that each fired punched holes through targets almost two kilometres away. (see picture)

That same month, 43 Armoured Regiment, which is the first army tank unit equipped with the Arjun, pronounced itself delighted with the Arjun’s firing performance. After firing trials in summer 2006, 43 Armoured Regiment endorsed, “The accuracy and consistency of the Arjun has been proved beyond doubt.”

But the establishment was quick to strike back. Barely three months after that report, the commanding officer of 43 Armoured Regiment, Colonel D Thakur, was confronted by then Director General of Mechanised Forces, Lt Gen DS Shekhawat. Eyewitnesses describe how he was upbraided for “not conducting the trials properly”. But in a career-threatening display of professional integrity, Colonel Thakur’s brigade commander, Brigadier Chandra Mukesh, intervened to insist that the trials had been conducted correctly.

In a series of interviews with the army, including the present Director General of Mechanised Forces, Lt Gen D Bhardwaj, and with the MoD top brass, Business Standard has learned that opposition to the Arjun remains deeply entrenched. This despite the soldiers of 43 Armoured Regiment declaring that if it came to war, they would like to be in an Arjun.

Minister of State for Defence Production, Rao Inderjeet Singh recounts, “I’ve spoken, off the record, to officers who have gone through the trials. Even the crews (from 43 Armoured Regiment)… who have been testing the tank… I forced them to choose between the Russian tanks and the Arjun. I said, you’ve driven this tank and you’ve driven that tank (the T-90). Now mark them out of ten, which tank is better? And I’ve found that the Arjun tank was given more numbers than the T-90 tank.”

With new confidence, the Arjun’s developer, the Central Vehicles R&D Establishment (CVRDE), is arguing strongly for “comparative trials”, in which the Arjun would be pitted head-to-head, in identical conditions, with the army’s T-90 and T-72 tanks. But the DGMF continues to resist any such face-off.

(Next: Part II: The DGMF’s back-pedalling on comparative trials)


  1. Isn't there anyone to shoot this DGMF bastard

  2. I think Karan Thapar should do a "Devils advocate" DGMF.

  3. Investigation of DGMF and DGMO has already been called Read here

  4. why wont they resist fair tests?

    You see every major defense deals involving bribes and corruption. Dont you see think the top brass gets a big cut of the action by keeping indegenous efforts at bay??

    Nothing wrong with the system(of testing) or the product(Arjun). It is the people who need to change..


  6. Guys, its arrogance not corruption. The army thought that the good for nothing bloody civilian DRDO was useless (irrespective of what the reality was) and proceeded to plonk taxpayer rupees in the hundreds of crores and now thousands on russian t-90s. Because, you see, the russians, being whiteskinned and tough and slavic, unlike the potbellied dark drdo scientists, would make good tanks. Well, reality bites. And now the DGMF is scrambling to save their a$$ by making sure the Arjun doesnt show itself to be superior to the T-90 and send a bunch of Gens careers to the toilet. Praising the Arjun, I am told, in front of the brass, is akin to career suicide.
    This is the reality. No matter what the DRDO does, whether it be Akash or Arjun, the Haw-Haw General and Air Marshal Blimps in the AF and Army will object. Its only good enough, if its from them abroad guys, old chap and toodle hoo and all that, what say?
    Having been part of the clique, I can tell you, this inherited Brit contempt for the civvie side of things, has really mucked up many things. And of course, its paid back by the bureaucrats- see the 6th pay commission disgrace upon how they have treated the services!
    My India is great!!

  7. I am glad shuklaji that you have brought these things in public with facts , figures & names.
    This article must be ringing alarm bells some where or the other. Your live must be in danger. You don't no these arms mafia, the have lots of money , power & political connection.

  8. shukla Ji,
    Thanks for your crusade for saving the Arjun. Time for a shake up at DGMF. Can you please fix the first image of Maj. Gen. Shiv Jaswal.The thumbnail doesn't open up to its high resolution image.

  9. Its very stupid to hear something like this. If IA don't want Arjun, then reject it on its look. Instead of doing this they are trying to hang an innocent. I pray to god may this idiot get killed next morning in a road rage or his black ambassador with red light jumps in a ditch or hits a tank may be Arjun.
    Puskis listen, from now onward think indefinite times before writing anything against ARJUN. Hats off Arjun you are a real Daredevil!

  10. shuklaji once used to trash Arjun?? When did he change and why? will he explain please

  11. Kudos.
    CVRDE is Combat Vehicles Research & Development Establishment and not Central Vehicle ... Correct the error pls.
    The photos Gen Jaiswal is not opening. and the hit coordinates on the thumbnail is not visible if you copy as such. The link needs to be checked.

  12. Thanks Shuklaji..

  13. rahul, anonymous, talk sense people.

    the dgmf guy may be stupid, arrogant and misguided but saying what you guys did is much worse. be sensible and desist from such nonsense.

  14. two holes in the target he aimed at testified that a soldier without previous experience operating tanks could get into the Arjun and use it effectively.

    Tell that General, the tank is not an AK-47, that anyone without training would be required to fire.Sheeesssh..these guys..and god forbid if ever comes to that, the war would've been lost much before.

  15. And you think AK-47 can be fired without training?

  16. Ok we get imported tanks they are better.
    Then we het imported soldiers to use, they are better,
    then we get imported generals they surely must be better
    Then what imported government ?

  17. DGMF/DGMO are a bunch of traitors who must be summarily hanged. With citizens like these who need enemies. I'm glad that the Army's gonna rot with officials like these.

  18. dgmf is pakistani shoot him

  19. There is a lot of money at stake. In purchases of billions of dollars a modest kick back of 10% will make every body, the army brass, the civil servant, the politician, go to their swiss bank laughing all the way. DRDO has no chance. It can not grease the palms of those who evaluate, who put the purchase order, who accept the consignment.
    General Sour Grapes

  20. V need to Sack those Lt Gens at DGMF... bloody oldies, they know they are going to retire and not going to the battle field. so why not make some money via Russian Kickbacks... Alas DRDO can not give such Kickbacks so its golden baby's undergoing war before its inducted

  21. look into the accounts an you will get your answers as to why Arjun is not preferred.....the tax payers money is any how being spent, to develop and to import.

  22. "Business Standard has learned that opposition to the Arjun remains deeply entrenched"

    But what is the argument of the opposition? Why dont you elaborate it Col Shukla.

    BS sure should have heard some arguments
    "In a series of interviews with the army, including the present Director General of Mechanised Forces"

  23. The Arjun is a good Tank not doubt about that. Arjun needs to be inducted into the armed forces overruling the judgement of the Idiot DGMF.


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