Monday, 19 August 2013

Arjun MK-II user trials kicked off in Rajasthan

User trials of Main Battle Tank, Arjun MK-II equipped with almost 75 new improved technologies and some other modified features as compared to Mark-I version have been kicked off in Rajasthan and are expected to continue for the coming few days. Defence Research and Development Organisation which has indigenously developed and manufactured this much awaited MBT with help of its various labs led by Chennai-based Combat Vehicle Research and Development Establishment has been conducting development trials for almost two years to test various technologies integrated into Arjun MK-II at different times as per the demands projected by Army.

However, as per a DRDO official, it is the first time, that all the integrated technologies including 16 major technologies are being tested at the same time. The user trials as per the officials started yesterday.

It is to be mentioned that Hyderabad based Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory of DRDO has developed the armour for Mk II version of Arjun. “Talking about DRDO, we are satisfied with the end product and its results making it one of the most potent combat tanks for the Army with unmatched automatic target detection and destruction while offering maximum protection to the crew. Now, the Army is testing the same in Pokharan Firing Range in Rajasthan”, said an official adding that MK-II is heavier than Mk-I but has more speed and manoeuvrability as compared to lighter counterparts currently in service with Army.

However, DRDO is asserting that if all goes well, Army should place an order of at least 500 Arjun MK-II tanks for make it cost effective, production viable and continuous in terms of supply. “Army earlier inducted 124 Mk-I Arjun Tanks and then asked for an advanced version equipped with specified features and capabilities. However, to make it cost effective and viable for both the industry and the users, the order has to be increased well in time to at least 500 for Mk II version of Arjun MBT. If the Army is satisfied, the order of 500 should be placed in one go only since that would save time taken for various formalities and procedures of a fresh order”, said a DRDO official while speaking to The Times of India.

Amongst the features which have been modified in MK-II version of Arjun vis-a-vis its Mk-I version are night vision capabilities with thermal imaging system for detecting all kinds of missiles, Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) providing greater protection to crew and tank, mine ploughs, ability to fire Anti-tank missile with 120 mm main gun, Advanced Air Defense gun capable of shooting down Helicopters with a 360 degree coverage, Automatic Target Tracking (ATT) lending a greater accuracy when it comes to moving targets and superior Laser Warning and Control systems.

DRDO official said that Arjun MK-II is equipped with integrated display system capable of detecting targets, their number and location while the thermal imaging unit facilitates the tank commander to see upto half a kilometre.

However, the German engine of Arjun Mk-I have again been integrated in MK-II as well despite claims of an indigenous engine as per the sources. Officials are attributing the same to the small order being proposed by Army and said that a separate plant for manufacturing engines cannot be put up for such limited order.

Here's the list of 19 major modifications that the Arjun Mark II. The list was finalized after extensive user opinion canvassing and feedback from the DGQA, DGEME, OFB, DGMF and DRDO.

1. Missile firing capability
2. Commander’s TI panoramic sight Mk II
3. Driver’s thermal imaging night sight
4. Additional ammunition 
5. Enhanced ammunition penetrator
6. Effective alternative to muzzle reference sight (MRS)
7. Resin-based CCC
8. Ten-round containerized bin
9. Explosive reactive armor panels
10. Infra-red/Thermal imaging resistant paint
11. Air defense weapon remote firing
12. ALWCS (advanced laser warning and countermeasure system)
13. Roof mounted driver’s seat
14. ATT in GMS (gunner’s main sight)
15. Advanced land navigation system
16. New final drive with increased reduction ratio
17. Advanced running gear system
18. New track system
19. Mine plough

In addition, there are 74 “minor” improvements (adding up to 93 improvements in all) that are not really that minor.

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