New Delhi, 14 February: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday handed over the first indigenously developed Arjun Mark-1A main battle tank (MBT) to Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Narwane in the presence of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) President Dr G Satish Reddy.
Now, the way has been cleared to formally order for the production of the last batch of Arjun MBT worth Rs 6,600 crore. Along with this the ‘Self-reliant India’ initiative in defense equipment, design, development and manufacturing has achieved another major milestone.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Tamil Nadu and Kerala today for the launch of several important development projects. After reaching Chennai’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Prime Minister Narendra Modi first saluted the battle tank Arjun. He then handed over the first indigenously developed Arjun Mark-1A Main Battle Tank (MBT) to Army Chief General MM Narwane.
On reaching the program, Chief Minister E.K. Palanisamy welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Arjun tank has been designed by Combat Vehicle Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE) of DRDO. The tank will be constructed by the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) heavy vehicle factory Avadi.
However, the first batch of five MBTs will be handed over to the army within 30 months of the signing of the contract with the government. The Arjun battle tank is a completely indigenously built Arjun tank in the Indian Army for the first time in 2004.
At present, the army has two regiments of 124 Arjun tanks, which are deployed on the Indo-Pakistan border in Jaisalmer. The upgraded version of the Arjun tank that he rode is the MK-1A when Prime Minister Modi visited the Longewala border in Jaisalmer (Rajasthan) with Pakistan to celebrate Diwali in November.
In 2014, the Defense Acquisition Committee (DAC) of the Ministry of Defense approved an order of Rs 6,600 crore for 118 Arjun MK-1A tanks, but the order has not yet been placed. The project was in limbo since 2015 as the army focused on ordering Russian T-90 tanks.
After this, in 2019, the army also placed an order of about 14 thousand crores for 464 T-90 to Russia. The Arjun Mark-2, developed in 2012, was named Arjun Mark-1A in 2018. The army gained a wide range of experiences while using the Arjuna tank.
Based on these, the army demanded a total of 72 types of reforms for its improved version. The DRDO designed the Hunter Killer Tank incorporating the Army’s suggestions.
In March 2020, it successfully met the trials conducted at Pokaran, after which the order to purchase the tank was also prepared but the army demanded some further improvements in the tank.
After this, DRDO built 4 tanks by adding about 14 new features to the tank. Subsequently, the Indian Army and DRDO jointly tested the fully indigenous advanced battle tank Arjun Mark-1A at the Pokaran field firing range last month. During this time military experts along with DRDO were also ready to prepare it. Now the upgraded version Arjun Mark-1A has completed all the tests in 2020 after which paved the way for its induction but waiting for orders from the government.
After the upgrade, DRDO claims that after so many improvements this tank is perfect in itself and in no way inferior to any of the best tanks in the world. The Arjun MK-1A has a total of 72 upgrades, compared to the previous model Arjun Mark-1 tank, which includes 14 significant and 58 subtle improvements.
A senior DRDO official said that a total of 118 new tanks will be built now. The Indian Army is now going to build two more regiments of this tank which will be inducted into the army in the next six months. Each regiment will have 59 Arjun tanks.
The Mark-1A tank has better firepower, manoeuvrability and safety than the 124 ‘Arjuns’ who were inducted into the army 16 years ago. According to a defense scientist, each Mark-1A tank would cost Rs 54 crore.
Features of Arjun Mark-1A Tank
The new upgraded version greatly enhances its fire power capability. Also, a completely new technology transmission system has been installed in it. This tank is capable of self-locating its target. It can also strike accurately at enemy moving targets moving steadily.
The tank will have a commander, gunner, loader and crew crew. These four will provide adequate protection even during tank warfare. The biggest feature of the tank is that it can move easily by cleaning the mines laid in the battlefield. The anti-tank grenade and missile being dropped from the shoulder has no effect on it.
Apart from this, it has special sensors to protect it from chemical attack. In the event of a chemical or nuclear bomb explosion, an alarm will sound. Also the air pressure inside the tank will increase so that the outside air cannot enter inside. Excellent filters for oxygen have been installed for crew members. Apart from this, many new features were added to it.