The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will roll out a more potent and indigenised variant of the Arjun tank in three years.
DRDO chief VK Saraswat said the German engine on the current version of the tank would be replaced by an Indian power plant and the new variant (Arjun Mk-II) would have 90% indigenous component. The existing tank may be hailed as an indigenous project but imported items such as power pack, gunner's main sight and track account for 58% of the cost per tank.
Saraswat, also the scientific adviser to the defence minister, told HT at Aero India-2011, "The new variant will have high indigenous quotient, except for some hydraulic and electronic systems. The tank should be ready in early 2014. It will feature several modifications including superior missile firing capabilities. "
The army raised its maiden armoured regiment equipped with Arjun tanks in May 2009, more than 35 years after the project was conceived. The army has so far placed an order for 248 tanks, each costing R16.8 crore. The Arjun was earlier plagued with problems concerning its fire control system, suspension and poor mobility due to its weight.
The army accepted the Arjun tank only after a third-party audit by an international tank maker roped in by the DRDO to endorse the battle-worthiness of the tank after extensive evaluations. The tank has been designed and developed by the DRDO and the Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment, Avadi.
Saraswat said the DRDO was laying the groundwork to develop future main battle tank. The tank would be lighter than the 60-tonne Arjun, he said. Currently, Russian T-90s and T-72s are the mainstay of India’s tank fleet.