INDIA DEVELOPS NEW TECHNOLOGIES FOR ARJUN TANK
By Bulbul Singh
02 Apr 09. Indian scientists have started development of advanced
defensive technologies for the Arjun Main Battle Tank. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)is developing the Advanced Laser Warning and Countermeasure System (ALWCS) and Mobile Camouflage System (MCS).
MCS is to provide multispectral signature management of the vehicle to reduce the vehicle signature against all known sensors and smart munitions. The performance trials of the MCS system have been completed.
The ALWCS system comprises laser warning system, jammer, and aerosol
smoke grenade system and is being developed with Elbit Systems of Israel.
Even as DRDO is developing these technologies, Arjun has yet to be cleared by the Indian Army for combat purposes and the Russian T-90 is now the main battle tank of the Indian land forces.
The Indian Army has said that it’s order of 124 Arjun tanks will be the final order, while DDRDO is insisting that the order be extended to at least 500 tanks to make the plant cost effective. The army has made it clear that it will buy no more than the 124 contracted tanks.
However, under pressure from DRDO, the Indian Army is holding comparative tests between T-90 and Arjun in June in the Rajasthan desert.
An Indian Army source said, “The DRDO is making all efforts to clear the tank for combat purposes so that a big ticket order is awarded to DRDO for the Arjun tank.” The Indian Army says that the Arjun is too bulky and cumbersome.
A DRDO scientist said Arjun is a better tank than the T-90 saying that Arjun has a greater power-to-weight ratio, a hydro- pneumatic suspension system for a more comfortable ride, a stable platform to fire on the move and a superior fire control system.
However, a senior Indian Army official asserted that a number of improvements have to be made and tested before the Army is satisfied with the tank.
“In earlier trials the German-made power pack failed several times during a run of 1000 kilometres which is in addition to several other faults reported on earlier trials in the desert,” said the Indian Army official.
After waiting since 1973 for the Arjun, the Indian Army ordered the purchase of 310 T-90S tanks from Russia for $725 million in 2001.
In 2007 the Army contracted another lot of 347 T-90S tanks for $980 million and another 1000 T-90S tanks are to be licensed produced here.
In addition, global tenders are awaited for the upgrade of another 700 T-72 Russian tanks.
The failure of the Indian Army to give further orders for Arjun will make it a non-economic project and the Arjun tank will stay as a show piece if it is not inducted for combat purposes.