INDIAN ARMY REJECTS HOMEGRWON TANK
By Bulbul Singh
03 Feb 08. The Indian Army has rejected yet another tank developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The new tank, currently with the Indian Army for evaluation, named Tank-Ex, is a combination of the T-72 and the homegrown Arjun Main Battle Tanks. The rejection of Tank Ex means that the Indian army will have to resort overseas for replacement of ageing T-72 tanks.
Two Tank Ex vehicles have been given to the Indian Army for evaluation, a senior Indian Army official said that the tank is not fit for combat as it has serious design pitfalls. The firepower and mobility have been compromised and it will be rejected by the Indian Army, the Army official added.
DRDO’s maiden tank project, started in the 1970’s, Arjun, has yet to be cleared for combat by the Indian Army leading to the purchase of Russian T-90 tanks.
Tank Ex was displayed at the Republic Day parade, January 26, in New Delhi but the Indian Army official wondered why the tank was displayed when it will not be cleared for combat. Tank Ex’s hull is similar to a T-72, mounted with an
Arjun tank turret.
The Indian army official said the Tank Ex is too large and heavy for the T-72 hull, plus, increasing the weight of Tank Ex to 47 tonnes, as against the 41 tonnes, means loss of power to weight ratio, thus resulting in poor mobility.
The official said that modifications on Arjun tanks’ turret also compromise its armour protection. During various trials and evaluation test the Indian army has concluded that to accommodate the Arjun ammunition inside the Tank Ex, 600 litres worth of fuel has been reduced reducing its cruising capacity substantially. The Indian Army has also found that there are problems with the lubrication system of Tank Ex. A scientist of DRDO however said that Tank Ex is a cheaper way to use the T-72 tanks which are due for scrapping or upgrade.
The upgrade of the T-72 tanks has been hanging fire for several years, mainly on account of DRDO’s insistence to go for Tank Ex. A senior Indian defence ministry official said, they are awaiting the formal report of the Indian Army on Tank Ex after which they will take a decision on the upgrade of the T-72 tanks.
In 1997 the Indian Army had floated a Request For Proposal for modernization of its entire fleet of 2000 T-72 tanks. However, the Indian defense ministry in 2001 decided to upgrade the T-72 tanks in batches.
The government short-listed PCO-Cenzin, Warsaw of Poland; Elop Electro-Optics Industries Ltd, of Israel and Thales, Paris, France for fire-control system; while IAI Electronics Group, Yahud, Israel, while LITEF GmbH, Freiburg, Germany and Reutech Defence Industries (RDI) Ltd, Natal, South Africa had been short listed for supply for land navigation system and for radio sets BAE Systems Electro Optics, Edinburgh, United Kingdom and Tadiran Limited, Holon, Israel had been selected. The upgrade has still not gone ahead and fresh bids are likely this year.
The Indian Army is already facing serious shortage of tanks with fifty per cent of its 3500 tanks slated to go to the junkyard in another five years due to old age. The Indian Army has already begun junking its 800 Vijayanta tanks which were commissioned into service in 1966.