By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: Defence scientists of Avadi-based Combat Vehicle Research Development Establishment (CVRDE) are all set to take India's Arjun Main Battle Tank (MBT) Mk II for the concluding phases of user trials. As per the schedule, the prototype of Arjun MBT Mk II will have to undergo five phases of user trials, out of which three have been completed at the Mahajan and Pokhran Field Firing Ranges.
CVRDE Director Dr P Sivakumar, told Express on Thursday that in the fourth phase of trial, the tank will have to be tested for obstacle crossing and medium fording (water) capabilities. "The concluding phases of the user trials will begin in May 2014. There are 89 improvements being undertaken on the Mk II tank, out of which 74 are related to tank-fittable ones and the remaining 15 are other improvements such as ammunition development,” Dr Sivakumar said.
CVRDE, a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Establishment, got on to mission mode to develop the upgraded version of Arjun MBT in 2010 and rolled out the first prototype within two years, for User trials. The Arjun Mk II is heavier by five tonnes when compared to Mk I, which is 62.5 tonnes. "So far the prototype tank has covered over 5000 km as part of DRDO and user trials. We have extensively conducted the validation of all the improvements prior to each phase of user trials," says Balamurugan V, Additional Director, Project Arjun, CVRDE.
It was during the recent Republic Day Parade that Arjun MBT Mk II was first exhibited for the general public. The tank is also being exhibited at the DefExpo-2014 which began in Delhi on Thursday. Arjun MBT Mk I is already in service with the Indian Army. Banking on indicators, DRDO is expecting additional orders for Arjun Mk II by early next year. DRDO says that Arjun MBT Mk II is substantially cheaper than contemporary tanks in its class to meet the battlefield challenges of the 21st century.
However, Army sources say that a few of the improvements need to be further refined. Sources said that the missile (Israeli LAHAT) firing trials need to be conducted again for further validation. DRDO says it is confident that the Arjun MBT Mk II will prove its worth in the final leg of the user trials.
Major improvements on Arjun MBT Mk II
* Advanced running gear system
* New track system with increased horn height
* New final drive with increased reduction ratio
* Containerised ammunition bin with individual shutters
* Roof mounted driver’s seat
* Incorporation of explosive reactive armour panels
* Track width mine plough with magnetic signature duplicator
* Commander’s panoramic sight Mk-II
* Automatic target tracker through gunner’s main sight
* Driver’s night sight/un-cooled thermal imager
* Advanced land navigation system
* Power-driven air defence gun system
* Laser warning and countermeasure system
* Missile firing through main gun
* Effective alternate to muzzle reference system
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