MoD orders 118 Arjun Mark 1A tanks for Rs 7,500 crore - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Stuff.

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Thursday, 23 September 2021

MoD orders 118 Arjun Mark 1A tanks for Rs 7,500 crore

Boost to “Make in India”, will benefit 200 Indian firms, create 8,000 jobs

 

By Ajai Shukla

Business Standard, 24th Sept 21

 

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on Thursday that it has placed an order with the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) for 118 indigenous Arjun Mark 1A main battle tanks (MBTs) for the army. 

 

The Arjun Mark 1A has been developed by the Central Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE) in Chennai – a Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) laboratory – and will be manufactured in the OFB’s Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF), Avadi.

 

“This production order to HVF, Avadi opens up a large avenue in defence manufacturing for over 200 Indian vendors including MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises), with employment opportunities to around 8,000 people,” an MoD statement said.

 

“The order, worth Rs 7,523 crore, will provide a further boost to the ‘Make in India’ initiative in the defence sector and is a big step towards achieving ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’, envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” stated the MoD.

 

The army already operates 124 Arjun Mark 1 MBTs, which amounts to two tank regiments. It has stoutly resisted ordering more, arguing that the 62.5-tonne tank was too heavy to be transported over bridges and culverts near the border.

 

Eventually, in a tank-versus-tank face-off in the Rajasthan desert in March 2010, one squadron (14 tanks) of Arjuns was pitted against an equal number of Russian T-90 tanks, which the army wants to buy more of. Top army generals who witnessed the trial admitted the Arjun performed superbly. Whether driving cross-country over rugged sand dunes; or accurately hitting targets with its powerful main gun; the Arjun matched and outdid the T-90.

 

Yet, the army refused to order more Arjuns, beyond the 124 already in service. At a meeting of the MoD-led Arjun Steering Committee in 2010, the army demanded 72 capability enhancements to improve the Arjun Mark 1 into what would be called the Arjun Mark 2.

 

Incredibly, given the army’s complaint that the Arjun Mark 1 was too heavy, these 72 enhancements would make it 6 tonnes heavier.

 

These included the fitment of mine ploughs (1.6 tonnes extra), explosive reactive armour (1.5 tonnes extra), suspension improvements (one tonne extra) and two more tonnes in other areas. The 62.5 tonne Arjun Mark 1 was to be translated into a 68.5 tonne Mark 2.

 

In June 2012, the DRDO offered the Arjun for trials with all the enhancements, except one: a cannon-launched guided missile (CLGM) that the army wanted to fire through the Arjun’s main gun. The Israeli Lahat CLGM that equipped the Arjun could strike targets two-to-five km away. However, the army insisted that the CLGM must strike targets as close as 1.2 km, even though the Arjun’s powerful main gun was adequate to destroy such targets.

 

By 2015, a series of trials had validated the improvements the army demanded. However, the army dilly-dallied for three years, until March 2018, when it was agreed that the next batch of Arjuns, which would be supplied without missile firing capability. They would be designated Arjun Mark 1A.

 

After several months of delay, Arjun Mark 1A trials were held in December 2018 and the tank found fit in all respects. The army’s trial team recommended the Arjun Mark 1A be inducted into service. Yet, it has taken almost three more years for an order to be placed.

 

“The state-of-the-art (Arjun Mark-1A)… is infused with 72 new features and more indigenous content from the Mark-1 variant… By virtue of these capabilities, this indigenous MBT proves to be at par with any contemporary in its class across the globe. This tank is particularly configured and designed for Indian conditions and hence it is suitable for deployment to protect the frontiers in an effective manner,” said the MoD today.

 

From the time the indent is placed, it would still take HVF 36 months to start delivering the first Arjun tanks. Since the DRDO is confident it would develop and prove the CLGM by then, the 118 Arjun Mark 1A tanks ordered today will actually be delivered as Arjun Mark 2, with full CLGM capability.




4 comments:

  1. Should the Indian Army replace the T-72'S it intends to with the Arjun Mark 2? Why is the army not keen on the same? Is it possible to transport the tanks by rail now, as it was not said to be possible before? Will the Mark 2 version of the Arjun be totally compliant with all the requirements of the Indian Army?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is it easier to operate T-90 tanks and maintain them for use, than it is to do the same with the Arjun Mark 2?

      Delete
  2. Slowly but steadily, the corrupt T-90 lobby within the army and MoD is giving way to the Arjun. Overall, its good news.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Whats the obsession with 118? Will any Russian vendor just sell 118 and the technologies? no, then why take in house makers for granted. order 400+ for scale of production and replace those ageing 72s. Arjun will turn the tide when we war with the porkis

    ReplyDelete

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