Arjun Mk1A is all set to rise
The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi will hand over the Main Battle Tank “Arjun” Mark-1A (Earlier called as Arjun Mk2 by DRDO) to the Indian Army today in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
Major Upgrades to Arjun
Arjun Mark 1 Alpha is an improved variant of the main battle tank Arjun Mk 1. This Tank has a total of 71 upgrades, including 13 major improvements.
The major upgrades are :
- Missile-firing capability against long-range targets,
- Panoramic sight with night vision to engage targets effectively at night,
- Containerisation of the ammunition,
- Enhanced main weapon penetration,
- Additional ammunition types,
- Explosive reactive armor,
- An advanced air-defense gun to engage helicopters,
- A mine plough,
- An advanced land navigation system,
- A warning system that can fire smoke grenades to confuse laser guidance,
- An enhanced Auxiliary power unit providing 8.5 kW (from 4.5 kW),
- Improved gun barrel and
- Digital Control Harness.
Note: Some may call it 14 major improvement including Optimized running gear with its high shock energy absorption.
Indian Army requested these changes . So practically it’s the system that Indian army demanded. However, ‘weight’ is the factor that still pushes this tank down.
The Indian Army’s Armoured Corps has cleared the tank after successful completion of the final integration tests conducted earlier last year in the western sector of Rajasthan.
Evaluating the Arjun
A tank is often evaluated under three criteria:
Theoretically, Arjun series is India’s most protected main battle tanks. At the heart of its protection lies the “Kanchan” armour. Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory (DMRL) has developed this modular composite armour. It is made by sandwiching composite panels between Rolled Homogenous Armour.
This armor is capable of defeating APFSDS and HEAT rounds. During trials conducted in 2000, this tank took a direct hit at point-blank range by a T-72. It also demonstrated the capability to defeat HESH and APFSDS rounds, which included an Israeli APFSDS round.
- ERA: The Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA) panels are provided for effective protection against ever-evolving threats. The tank will get an active protection system, likely an Israeli trophy at a later point in time.
- The Active protection system deal for the Indian tanks could not go through after a single vendor situation. The two participants were the Israeli trophy and the Russian Arena. Russia withdrew from the competition resulting in a single vendor situation, which in-turn jeopardized the entire quest. Now, trophy likely will be made in India under the Make in India initiative.
- CABISBOP: In a tank with a manual loader, its important to conceal the crew and keep them away from ammunition storage. Therefore, many western tank use “Blast Doors” to protect the crew from burning of Ammunition. Arjun uses a different a technique, called “CABISBOP”. The CABISBOP stands for Containerised Ammunition Bin with Individual Shutter and Blow Off Panels. In this approach ammunition is stored in tubular containers with individual shutters. This will not only keep the crew away from ammunition storage, but it also conceals ammo from each other.
- The Laser Warning receiver and Counter Measure System protects the crew from anti-tank guided missile. This also creates a smokescreen between itself and the enemy creating a shroud of smoke to operate under.
- Thermal signature reduction paint: A special type of paint is used to reduce the thermal signature of the tank. This reduces the signature of the tank when viewed using an IR/TI camera or goggles, thus making the tank difficult to be detected by enemies.
- The tank also features NBC protection.
The Arjun Mk1 A has four major upgrades under this category.
- An improved Gunner’s Main Sight (GMS) integrated with Automatic Target Tracking (ATT) allows the crew to track moving target automatically making it easy for the gunner to fire even when the tank is on the move in any terrain.
- The Commander’s Panoramic Sight has been integrated with thermal Imagers. This enables the commander to effectively conduct surveillance both day and night through an eye-safe Laser Range Finder. The system integrated is CPS Mark 2, This system enhances its Hunter Killer Capability.
- In addition, incorporating a wide variety of ammunitions enhances the firepower and options available on the battlefield. Other than conventional Fin Stabilised Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot (FSAPDS) and High Explosive Squash Head (HESH) ammunition, Thermo Baric (TB) and Penetration Cum Blast (PCB) ammunition have been developed.
- The FSAPDS MK2 round of Arjun Mk1A offers maximum penetration hit available with the Indian army. The T90 tanks of the Indian Army use “125 MM Mango Tank Shell” (Round with best DoP that IA has today), FSAPDS MK2 has more DoP than this round.
- Lastly, the vehicle was upgraded with a Remote-Controlled Weapon Station that provides the loader the capability of engaging ground targets and aerial targets from the protective envelope of the tank armor. It also provides an additional capability to fight in urban areas using a Hatch-closed firing mode.
The power pack of the main battle Arjun comprises an engine and cooling system. The engine and transmission are provided by German companies MTU and Renk respectively. The water-cooled turbocharged MTU engine generates 1,400 hp. GTRE makes the turbocharger for this power pack. The tank has an epicyclic train gearbox with four forward and 2 reverse gears.
- Local transmission is under trial and the Renk supplied unit. German Company Diehl initally supplied the tracks. Larsen & Toubro is now manufacturing these tracks in India.
- The cooling system in this power pack is homegrown and has been designed for desert operations. The Arjun has a lower ground pressure than the lighter T-72, due to its design. It features a hydro-pneumatic suspension which coupled with the Arjun’s stabilization and fire control system allows the tank excellent first-hit probability against moving targets while on the move.
- The Indian Army highly praised the stability and ride comfort of this tank. Though on the negative side, it is an expensive system.
Future of Main Battle Tank Arjun
The Indian Army already operates 124 Arjun Mark 1 in two regiments stationed in the Rajasthan sector. These 118 will form another two regiments. The already existing units (Mark 1) may be upgraded to “close-to” Mark1A standards. However, this looks like the last order for the Arjun series of Tanks. The focus of the Indian Army is shifting towards drone warfare and after a stand-off with China in Ladakh, future tanks of the Indian army will be of lighter and medium category.
Indian army has always been vocal about the weight of Arjun main battle tank. Therefore, now it’s almost certain that DRDO will have to give up on the manual loading and move towards a medium-weight tank with an autoloader.
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