Thursday, 5 May 2011

Arjun Mk II Ready For Testing

Arjun MK-I
User trials for India’s future main battle tank, the Arjun Mk. II Phase I, will begin in June, and the first batch of the advanced variant should be ready by 2014.

Two regiments of the Arjun Mk. I are already deployed in India’s western sector of Rajasthan by the army, and a further order for 124 tanks has been placed with the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO).

“DRDO has already begun work on the improvements required for the Mk. II tanks, and about 20 improvements have already been completed,” a defense ministry official says. The two-phase project was cleared in 2010.

“After completing technical trials, the army will validate the major improvements carried out in the Phase I and II plans. This is scheduled during June 2011 and July 2012,” the official says.

The indigenously developed weapon system will undergo 93 upgrades in two phases, including the advanced air defense gun system for firing at attack helicopters. The tank also will be equipped with explosive-reactive armor to protect it from enemy missiles and rockets.

The tank is likely to benefit from new laser warning suites and missile-firing capabilities, which are much advanced over existing systems. It also will have an automatic target-tracking system to add accuracy when firing on a moving target.

Besides the 124 Arjun Mk. I tanks, the Indian army has signaled its intention to acquire another 124 Mk. IIs.

According to the official, 45 tanks will be ready in the Phase I period, and the remaining 79 will roll out during Phase II. “The first batch of Arjun Mk. II Phase I tanks are expected to be ready during 2013-14,” he says.

The official says the army’s Arjun Mk. I tanks were manufactured by Heavy Vehicles Factory.