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Arjun Tank is the Main Battle Tank developed by DRDO (Defence Research and Development) in India.
The Arjun is a 120mm armed tank designed in synch with western design practices—having a crew of four, heavy composite armour, significant crew
protection features—such as blow off panels and ammunition separated from the crew. It weighs in at 58.5 tons. Hence it is being inducted slowly by
the Indian Army, whose logistics are attuned to lighter 40 ton class tanks such as the T-72M1. The T-72 forms the bedrock of the Indian Army and is
being modernised in stages to present day standards, with Arjun technology spinoffs and features such as Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA), new fire
control system, thermal imagers, better NBC protection, integrated fire protection system, etc.
The Arjun has a modern Fire Control System, stabilised in two axes, with an extremely high hit probability made by BEL India and designed by DRDO and
BEL. It replaced an earlier system which was plagued with problems. Its combined with a day sight and an imported Thermal imager. The Thermal Imager
is a 2nd generation unit and is reportedly from Israel's El-op. The commander has his own stabilised panoramic sight and can engage targets or hand
them over to the gunner.
The Arjun incorporates a GPS-based navigation system, sophisticated frequency hopping radios and a state of the art Battle Field Management
system—part of an ambitious Indian plan to network all their fighting units. All these systems were designed and developed by DRDO and BEL and are
being manufactured by Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL).
The 120mm gun is a rifled one of Indian design and fires long rod FSAPDS Kinetic Energy rounds, High explosive squash head—HESH rounds and the
Israeli semiactive laser guided LAHAT missile. There are two machine guns—one coaxial with the 120mm, another a 12.7mm intended for anti-aircraft
use and engaging infantry.
The Arjun also has Laser Warning receivers and uses them in conjunction with smoke launchers.
The turret and glacis are heavily armoured and use "Kanchan" (gold) composite armour—tested and proven against all Antitank rounds the Indian Army
expects to face in the future battlefield.
The turret is designed keeping the anthropemetrical data of Indian troops in mind. And has crew protection features—it keeps the ammunition
separated from the crew. The Arjun also features Indian designed fire detection and suppression systems plus full NBC protection for the crew of four:
Gunner, Commander, Loader and Driver.
The engine and transmission are provided by MTU and Renk respectively. The Engine is 1400 hp and integrated with an Indian turbocharger and gearbox. A
local transmission is under trials and will ultimately replace the Renk supplied unit. The cooling pack has been designed for desert operations.
Despite its weight, the Arjun has a lower ground pressure than the T-72 and this aids it in the desert.
Similarly the tracks were being supplied by Diehl but are to be now made by an Indian engineering major, L&T Lmtd.
The similarity in looks between the Arjun and the Leopard 2A4 thanks to the design consultancy given by Krauss Maffei, and the involvement of German
firms in the project has led some to dub the Arjun as Leopard-I, where I stands for India.
But over the years, the constant revisions and design changes have placed Arjun in its own slot. And therein lies the problem, despite its technical
sophistication, the Arjun is deemed too expensive and "different", in terms of weight and logistics, for the Indian Army to adopt as its standard,
bread and butter Main Battle Tank. Hence India is all set to manufacture 1000 T-90S tanks licensed from Russia, after importing and license assembling
In the meanwhile the Indian Army has ordered 124 Arjuns and is gearing to group them in a dedicated unit along with the prior prototypes and test
tanks, all of which are now deemed operational. The first 15 tanks out of the 124 have been produced already. And the Indian Army recently
(2004-08-07) inducted the first five tanks of the remaining 109.
The planned production rate being 30 tanks per year, but the Army wishes for it to be 50 per year.
In time, as the Arjuns get inducted, it is feasible that the Indian Army may order more.
Over the years the Arjun has surmounted many hurdles: it was redesigned from being a 40-ton tank armed with a 105mm gun to todays 58.5 ton behemoth.
It has had engine and FCS issues, which were overcome.
But in the process, India has acquired its own armaments complex and the ability to make modern state of the art armoured vehicles.
The Arjun might be converted into a 155 mm self-propelled howitzer by fitting the South African T6 turret which has the G5 howitzer