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Arjun Mark 1-A Tanks – Burning Issues – Free PDF Download

 ARJUN

  • In about a year from now, the Army will place an order for 118 Arjun Mk-1A Main Battle Tanks, or the MBT as they are popularly called.
  • Known as the “hunter killers”, the latest version of the tank, equipped with a massive 120 mm rifled gun and Kanchan armour, will be the most potent armoured system in the inventory of the Army.

TANKS NEEDED

  • India’s Armoured Corps, which has majorly used only Russian tanks, has an operational requirement of medium-weight tanks — weighing anywhere between 40-50 tonnes. It is also looking at a lighter tank for certain areas like the hills, riverines and islands.
  • The Arjun tank, first envisaged in 1972, was meant to replace the Russian T-72 that is still in service. It was meant to weigh just 48 tonnes but eventually ended up weighing 62 tonnes. The latest version weighs 68.5 tonnes.

The deployability issue

  • Arjun has a combination of systems but as a single entity, faces many challenges, primarily due to its weight and width.
  • Former Director General Mechanised Forces Lt Gen A.B. Shivane (Retd) tells me that the greatest challenge for Arjun is its deployability and restricted employability in open desert terrain — all because of its weight.

The deployability issue

  • Colonel Ajay Singh (retd), an Armoured Corps Officer, who has seen the Arjun MBT in action, tells me that the indigenous system is a beautiful machine.The Arjun MBT has an excellent 120 mm rifled gun, and a fine fire and control system, he says. Singh is all praise for Arjun’s ergonomics, saying that it provides the crew most comfort and ease of operation.Globally, the trend in Western nations is to build heavier, bigger MBTs that give more fire power and protection to the crew. This, despite the fact that there is an increasing focus on new warfare.

Western armies with heavy tanks

  • You still see the trend in the Western armies of having bigger tanks than ever. The Challenger 2 of the British —weighing 62.5 tonne and having a 120 mm rifled gun firing armour-piercing and high-explosive ammunition — is one such example.
  • The UK is working on a new tank, the Challenger 3.It would be heavier than the Challenger 2 which has a combat-ready weight of 75 tonnes. The Leopard 2A7+, the latest MBT of Germany, has a weight of 67.5 tonnes.

Western armies with heavy tanks

  • The latest MBT of the US, Abrams M1A2 SEPv3 tank, an upgraded version of the combat proven Abrams M1A2, weighs a massive 73.6 tonnes. Its weight has been a concern in the US Army. The Merkava MK 4, the latest Israeli MBT, weighs a massive 65 tonnes.
  • But before we come to that, remember that the latest Russian tank, the Armata, weighs just 48.5 tonnes, still heavier than the T90 (46 tonnes) it will replace.

India’s operational requirement

  • The Indian operational requirement is very different from that of other countries. Indian forces move in desert areas like that of Rajasthan, plains and canal-infested Punjab region, besides mountains and high-latitude areas like Ladakh and Sikkim.
  • The weight of the Arjun MBT is a huge mobility issue because there are not many 70-tonne category bridges along the border — neither on the Indian nor on the Pakistani side.

India’s operational requirement

  • The Arjun MK 1 A can’t easily be transported on trains as well, because this would require building dedicated Mobile Bogie Well Wagons used by the Railways to transport military equipment.
  • The Army has been forced to go in for two regiments of the Arjun Mk-1A for Rs 8,380 crore as part of the Narendra Modi government’s Atmanirbhar initiative.

India’s operational requirement

  • After having demanded the ‘moon’ from the DRDO, the Army may as well procure the Arjun Mk-1A in limited numbers.
  • However, the need of the hour is for the Army and the DRDO to work together for a lighter tank in a quick time frame. Case in point is the work on a tank version of the Vajra. This project needs to be fast tracked.

 

 

 

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