|The catapult during various field development trials. Photos: CVRDE|
By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is all set to unveil a 130 mm (Self Propelled) Catapult Gun System built based on the Arjun Main Battle Tank (MBT) MK-1 chassis. Developed by Avadi-based (near Chennai), the Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE), a DRDO lab, the Arjun Catapult is likely to be displayed for the first time in public during the Defexpo India-2014, being held in Delhi from February 6-9, subject to security clearance.
CVRDE Director Dr P Sivakumar told Express on Wednesday that the catapult has adopted advanced technologies of Arjun MBT automotive system along with 130 mm (SP) M-46 gun system. “It offers the users in the battle field a self propelled system with excellent fire power, high mobility and required protection. The catapult would fulfil the interim and immediate requirements of Artillery to replace two Regiments holding Vijayanta Catapult Guns, there by extending the life of 130 mm guns,” Dr Sivakumar said. Tipped as the fastest realisation project of DRDO, the Arjun Catapult had its first field development trials in November 2012, four moths after receiving the Army requirement.
Developed at a cost of Rs 15 crore, the gun and related ordnance systems for the catapult was supplied free of cost by the Indian Army. Currently, the CVRDE has developed one catapult for user evaluation trials. Army has intended to place an order for 40 catapult gun systems. A user-assisted General Staff Qualitative Requirements (GSQR ) trials of the system is likely to to be held at the Pokharan Field Firing Range in Rajasthan during April-May. Some new features of Arjun MBT MK-II being incorporated into the catapult systems, will also be evaluated during the crucial GSQR trials. He added that the 'remarkable mobility and the agility' of the catapult were mainly due to the high-performance 1030 kW engine, robust transmission system and a flexible hydro-pneumatic suspension, among others.
“The catapult can engage enemy artillery systems, heavy tanks and mortars. It can annihilate enemy manpower and tanks at their concentration area. It can also destroy permanent earth defensive installations and other strong field type fortifications in addition to shelling enemy rear installations,” says K Sreethar, Head, Artillery, CVRDE.
He said the Arjun Catapult has better stability, accuracy and consistency. “The gun barrel is mainly used to engage in indirect fire up to a maximum range of 27.4 km. The gun can also be fired directly on targets up to 1.4 km range. It can be fired at various angles of elevation as well. The catapult has STANAG Level II protection (a NATO standardisation agreement) for the crew from the side as well as from the top. It has low silhouette and has integrated fire fighting detection and suppression system,” he further said.
Ergonomics using anthropometric data of Indian troops has been kept in view while designing the fighting and engine compartments and maximum possible protection to crew have been ensured. Embedded with a global positioning system, the catapult is armed with night vision devices for both the driver and the commander.
SALIENT FEATURES: High power to weight ratio | Excellent ride comfort | Indirect and direct firing capability | Rapid deployment and quick displacement | Long range | STANAG Level-II protection | Automatic fire detection and suppression systems |GPS display for commander and driver | STARS V Mk-II radio set | Crew intercommunication
Copyright@The New Indian Express