Thursday, 24 November 2011

Watch Out This New Year Deadlier Arjun MK-II Will Be Unleashed.

It is official by Jan-2012 Arjun MK-II will go for trials and once it passes those trials it will be inducted into the Indian Army.

Readers of this blog might remember the controversy generated by Arjun Mk-I. After long delays it was sabotaged during trials forcing DRDO to put a black box. Once it was given a level playing field, it not only out-performed T-90's but gave it a good spanking. Army was so impressed they immediately ordered 124 of these tanks. Follow up order was in pipeline if some improvements were made to the original. So started the story of Arjun MK-II. 93 modifications had to be made with 19 major ones.

One of the heavy criticism of Arjun MK-I was its weight which came to somewhere in the range of 62-63 tons yet the surprising aspect of the major modifications is that Arjun MK-II is now 3-4 tonnes heavier. Historically Army has been complaining about the unsuitability of Arjuns to the road and railways infrastructure of India yet it has accepted the increased weight due to the comparative benefits.

CVRDE chief, Dr P Sivakumar, an award-winning transmission specialist, is jubilant. “Earlier the army was criticising my Arjun [for weighing too much]. But, after seeing its cross-country performance, even compared with a lighter 40-tonne tank like the T-90, they realise that the Arjun moves like a Ferrari. Even at 65-66 tonnes, it will beat any MBT in the desert,” he promises.

The first major modification is the addition of ERA plates to give it more protection increasing the weight by 1.5 tonnes then comes the mine plough fitted at the front of the tank which churns up the ground infront of the tank while moving blowing up deadly mines which otherwise had blown up the tank.

In 2004 it was proven that LAHAT missiles can be fired from Arjun now the sighting and control systems are being integrated into the gunner’s sight by its vendors, OIP Sensor Systems (Belgium) and SAGEM (France).

Next big improvement is the tank commander’s thermal imaging (TI) night sight, which will replace the outdated ay only sight of Arjun MK-I. Giving this monster the ability to hunt at night. This feature has been aptly named as “hunter-killer” mode --- the commander as hunter; and the gunner as killer. The commander scans the battlefield through his new TI sight; targets that he spots are electronically allocated to the gunner to destroy, while he returns to hunting for more targets.

The Mark II also equips the driver with a new night vision device based on “un-cooled thermal imaging”, allowing him to clearly see 300-500 metres, even on a pitch-dark night. The “image intensifier” device in the Mark I required some ambient light. A DRDO laboratory, Instrument R&D Establishment (IRDE), Dehradun, has built the new driver’s sight.

Tank's hydro-pneumatic suspension have been changed which is now capable of handling a 70-tonne load. This also incorporates some newly-developed technologies to overcome occasional problems that the Arjun Mark I has grappled with during its development period: grease leakage and track shedding.

Israel Military Industries (IMI), designers of the renowned Merkava tank, talking to Indian Army generals after a “third-party evaluation” of the Arjun declared that the Arjun, especially ruggedised for Indian conditions, would outrun any competition.

The big modification to be incorporated later in 2012 is laser counter measure. This system detects the laser which an enemy missile is following and within a split second it creates a smokescreen around the tank thereby making the enemy missile gunner blind.

Unfortunately there is one drawback while the MK-I can achieve top speed of 70kmph this giant can go upto only 60mph.Even though it is slower yet army believes that a tank needs agility and firepower, it is seldom used for sustained cross--country top speed.

Next big problem is the cost which is a whopping 37 crore each.