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After 36 years, 'Arjun' gets ready for induction

January 16, 2009 11:00 IST

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The Army and the Defence Research Development Organisation will jointly carry out comparative trials of indigenous 'Arjun' tanks with Russian-made T-90s this June, increasing prospects of the former's induction in the force soon.

The trials will pave the way for the Army to finally accept Arjun tanks for induction, over 36 years after the project was commissioned by the government, defence ministry sources told PTI here today.

"The comparative trials of Arjun tanks with the Russian-made T-90s will take place this summer in June, before the Army gets to induct the indigenously developed tanks," a defence ministry source said.

These trials will come exactly a year after the summer trials of Arjun tanks in the Rajasthan deserts had "failed", compelling Minister of State for Defence Production Rao Inderjit Singh to suspect "sabotage" to be behind the tanks performing below expectations during the trials.

The trial in June, sources said, would be the first of the series under which the army and the DRDO would test and compare technologies and capabilities of the two tanks. "During the summer trials of the two tanks in June, they will be subjected to various other comparative tests in the following months and it is likely to be completed by June 2010," the source said.

After the trials, the Army and the DRDO would carry out a detailed analysis of the tests to determine which of the two tanks was better, sources said.

The Army had already placed an order for 124 of the Arjun tanks from the Avadi-based Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF) in Tamil Nadu, but the DRDO has sought that the indent be increased to over 300 tanks, and had been working in the recent years towards improving the tank's capabilities.

However, Army has continued with its search for a Future Main Battle Tank (FMBT), organising technical seminars and seeking information and expertise from foreign manufacturers, including from the US, UK, France [Images], Russia [Images], Germany [Images], South Korea and Israel.

"The Army is now looking 20 years ahead and wants a futuristic MBT," top Army officers had said recently voicing the aspirations of the force. In fact, Arjun tanks had also failed the winter trails in December 2007, according to a Parliamentary report submitted in 2008.

With the comparative trials of Arjun with T-90s still to come, army had already increased its orders for Russian T-90 tanks by another 330 in 2007, over and above the 1,000 it had ordered in 2006, clearly indicating that T-90s would be the MBT of Indian Army [Images] for the next decade.

The first Indian order for 310 T-90s tanks from Russia was placed in 2001 from which India bought 124 tanks off the shelf and contracted for licensed production of the rest 186 at the HVF.

Chennai-based Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE) had in 2007 handed over 14 Arjuns to the army for trials, but they were returned with a list of defects in its fire control systems, inaccuracy of guns, low speeds in tactical areas such as deserts and inability to operate in temperatures beyond 50 degrees Celsius.

To provide the Army another with option for battle tanks, the DRDO has recently developed 'Tank-Ex', a hybrid of the T-72 'Ajeya' tank's chassis and Arjun's turret. The new DRDO project -- Tank-Ex -- too did not find favour with the Army. "Tank-Ex is a hybrid of T-90 and T-72, which are both contemporary technology tanks. There is no point in having a technologically obsolete tanks for warfare two decades hence," an Army officer said.

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