The fate of the Arjun is more or less sealed, with the Army indicating it will place no more orders for the tank. The tank, beset by huge delays and cost overruns, has failed to meet the requirements of the Army.
Eight years after the Army placed an indent for 124 tanks with the Ordinance Factory Board a senior Army official said, “Arjun can at best serve us for five to 10 years. What we need is a tank that can meet our requirements for the next 20 to 25 years.” Army headquarters sources, however, added that a final decision on Arjun would be taken after scrutinising various trial reports.
The Arjun has been plagued with a mix of problems concerning its fire control system, suspension and poor mobility. The 29th report of the Standing Committee on Defence tabled in Parliament in April this year, as reported by HT, quoted Army officials as saying: “We have carried out winter trials. The tanks have performed very poorly and there have been four engine failures. The tanks have done about 1,000 kilometres each…”
Cleared way back in 1974, the original cost of the project has shot up from Rs 15.5 crore to Rs 306 crore. The senior official said: “I am not saying it is a bad tank but it is not suitable for our requirements. We need a futuristic tank on par with those around the world. We will place no more orders other than the 124 already contracted.”
The government had sanctioned Rs 100 crore in May 2002 for the creation of infrastructure to manufacture the tanks. Although Arjun had been touted as an indigenous project, imported items such as power pack, gunner’s main sight and track account for 58 per cent of the tank’s cost. The cost of each Arjun unit is around Rs 16.8 crore.