Arjun rises from the ashes
The Main Battle Tank Arjun has got a new lease of life. The army has decided to place a follow-on order for an additional 124 tanks, shedding its reluctance to induct the indigenously built tank.india Updated: May 17, 2010 23:19 IST
The Main Battle Tank Arjun has got a new lease of life.
The army has decided to place a follow-on order for an additional 124 tanks, shedding its reluctance to induct the indigenously built tank. The repeat order comes more than 10 years after the army awarded a contract to the Defence Research and Development Organisation for 124 tanks.
The MBT project hit several lows during its 36-year gestation period but the tank swung back into favour after it matched the Russian-made T-90 during punishing desert trials this March.
A defence ministry spokesperson said: “After many years of trials, it has now proved its worth by its superb performance under various circumstances such as driving cross-country over rugged sand dunes, detecting, observing and quickly engaging targets and accurately hitting stationary and moving targets.”
The army raised its maiden armoured regiment equipped with Arjun tanks last year. It has received 75 tanks and the remaining 49 are to be delivered by mid-2010.
The Arjun was plagued with a mix of problems concerning its fire control system, suspension and poor mobility due to excessive weight. In an unusual stance, the army accepted the tank only after a third-party audit by an international tank maker that was specially roped in by the DRDO to endorse its battle-worthiness.
The Arjun may be hailed as an an indigenous project but imported items such as power pack, gunner’s main sight and track account for 58 per cent of the cost per tank. The present cost of each tank is around Rs 16.8 crore. The project cost has spiralled up from Rs 15.5 crore in 1974 to Rs 306 crore. It is learnt that the DRDO wants the army to field at least 500 Arjun Mark 1 tanks to recover the cost of investment.
The spokesperson said, “The tank’s superior firepower is based on accurate and quick target acquisition capability during day and night in all types of weather and shortest possible reaction time during combat engagements.”