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By Bulbul Singh

10 Mar 10. After the Indian Army rejected the homemade Arjun tanks for use in combat on several occasions after test trials, the Indian defence ministry has asked DRDO and the Indian Army to hold comparative trials of Arjun tank and the Russian T-90 tank.

The tests are to be held at the end of this month in the Rajasthan desert. One squadron (14 tanks) of the Arjun will be pitted against a T-90 squadron.

Sources said, “Though the two tanks are not comparable due to the variance in their size, after the trials, DRDO would push for getting additional orders from the Indian Army for more Arjun tanks.”

Some of the defects noticed in the Arjun tank by the Indian Army include: failure of power packs; low accuracy and consistency; failure of Hydropneumatic Suspension Units; shearing of top rollers and chipping of gun barrels.

Sources in the Indian Army say the tank is still not performing up to expectations of the Army adding that the German-made power pack has failed several times despite rectifications.

The Indian Army has already designated the T-90 as their Main Battle Tank and has refused to increase the order for Arjun tanks from the already contracted 124 units. The 124 contract order for DRDO is becoming uneconomical and the research agency is using all its influence with the Indian defence ministry to increase the order of their Arjun tank.

The Arjun has yet to be cleared by the Indian Army for combat purposes 35 years after it was conceived by DRDO.

The Indian defence ministry however said, “DRDO and the Ordnance Factory Board have already finished development of the Mark II upgraded version of the Arjun which would be lighter in weigh and more versatile.”

Indian scientists have also completed development of advanced defensive technologies for the Arjun tank. The DRDO developed Advanced Laser Warning and Countermeasure System (ALWCS) and Mobile Camouflage System (MCS)is to provide multispectral signature management of the vehicle to reduce the vehicle signature against all known sensors and smart munitions.

The ALWCS system comprises laser warning system, jammer, and aerosol smoke grenade system and is being developed with Elbit Systems Ltd.

A Senior Indian Army official said that in case the Arjun is not passed for combat purposes in the latest tests then it would be certain that Arjun would never be used for combat purposes and orders for more tanks, other than Arjun be sourced in the international market.

Arjun has been conceived and developed by Combat Vehiclesm Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE), Avadi along with other DRDO laboratories. The Arjun price is roughly similar to the T-90 at around $2.6m.

After waiting since 1973 for the Arjun the Indian Army ordered the purchase of 310 T-90S tanks from Russia for $725m in 2001.

In 2007 the Army contracted another 347 T-90S for $980m and another 1000 T-90S tanks are to be licensed produced locally.

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