An order for the supply of 118 units of the Main Battle Tank (MBT) Arjun’s Mark-1A variant for the Army was placed by the Ministry of Defence of India to the Heavy Vehicles Factory (VHF), Chennai, on Thursday.
Equipped with accurate & superior firepower along with all-terrain mobility and invincible multi-layered protection, which is provided by an array of advanced technology systems, the new variant of the Arjun tank is infused with 72 new features (14 major and 58 minor) along with additional indigenous content from the Mk-1 variant of the tank.
The all-terrain mobility and manoeuvrability in various modes of operations have been enhanced by the additions made. Other enhancements in target acquisition, precision firing capability in daylight and night with a 360° view and a multi-layered robust protective armour named ‘Kanchan’ is also a result of the development. Its robust 120 mm rifled gun and other additions have contributed to categorising the new variant as the ‘hunter killer’.
With a maximum cruising range of 500 km, the new variant can run at a top road speed of 58 km/h & 40 km/h in cross country. The tank is said to have been integrated with a thermobaric and penetration-cum-blast ammunition. Without preparation, the tank can cross a water obstacle of 1.4 m depth and 2.15 m with a kit.
The Mk-1A of the Arjun tank is suitable for deployment to protect the frontiers effectively as it is particularly configured and designed for Indian conditions. Currently, trials of firing guided missiles from Arjun are being conducted by DRDO. Some comfort features for the four-member crew are also said to have been added to the new variant. Regarding network-centric warfare, Some of the features also prepare the Mk-1A for enhanced effective use of information technology and computer networking on the battlefield.
With a primary objective to augment the predominantly Russian-made armoured fleet, the development of Arjun was initiated by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in the late 1980s. In the early 1990s, the trials of the earliest Arjun variant had begun while the tank was inducted in 2004.
In June 2010, work on the variant or Mk-1A had begun, and the tank was fielded for trials in June 2012. The DRDO and the Indian Army conducted extensive trial evaluations for the next three years, followed by further trials, including field trials, in subsequent years. During 2012-2015, an extensive trial evaluation was conducted in different phases covering 7000 plus km of the automotive and substantial firing of various ammunition.