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By Bulbul Singh

26 Nov 07. Even as the Indian government allows the design and development
of a homegrown futuristic main battle tank, the Indian army has said, that it will not wait for the home-grown tank, and will want to purchase advanced tanks from overseas. The homegrown futuristic tank should be developed only on experimental basis, says the army.

The Indian Army’s response followed the decision by the Indian defence ministry to design and develop a homegrown Main Battle
Tank (MBT) which will include advanced features of firepower, mobility and survivability. The MBT project was given the go ahead by the Indian defence ministry this year, under which the state-owned Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE), under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is to design and develop the tank. So far around $100m has been released for the project and scientists of DRDO say that the design has been frozen.

However, the Indian Army has told the Indian defence ministry that they will not give any formal orders for the MBT under development and has asked the Indian
government to allow the Army to purchase additional tanks from overseas to fill the gap in the tank fleet, which is shrinking a rapid pace. It is estimated that over fifty per cent of 3500 tanks with the Indian Army will be scrapped in the next five years.

The Indian Army said that the experience in the development of the Arjun MBT has been frustrating as it has taken over three decades for the tank to develop and the tank has yet to be inducted for combat purposes by the Indian Army.

The new home-grown tank, which has yet to be named, will weigh 40 tones and have a 125mm gun capable of kinetic weapons and missiles, claimed DRDO scientists

The tank will have third generation transmission system, integrated fire control system with laser range finders, battlefield management system and mine detection system.

The Indian army is purchasing over 350 additional T-90 tanks from Russia for which a contract is in the final stages of inking. This is in addition to the 310 T-90s which have been license-produced at the state-owned Heavy Vehicles Factory, Avadhi.

Sources in the Indian Army say they fear that the home-grown tank under development could be forced by the Indian defence ministry on the Indian Army as a replacement for the 1600 T-72 tanks with the Indian army which are slated for retirement in the next five to seven years. The Indian Army wants to either upgrade the T-72s or replace them with direct purchases from overseas, said sources.

The Indian Army had to wait for over 30 years for the Arjun tank: the tank has still to be formally inducted in the Indian army for combat purposes. Despite several changes, the Indian army says the tank is too bulky as it weighs 58.5 tons and has poor mobility. (See: BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.9 ISSUE 38, 27 Sep 2007, INDIA’S ARJUN TANK GOES INTO PRODUCTION By Bulbul Singh)

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