The Logistical issues with Arjun tank are the hoodwinks that are holding off orders.
MBT Arjun – The tank that could have been the mainstay of Indian armoured corps is starving for the orders today. This multi-laboratory programme of DRDO with CVRDE as the lead Laboratory has been through extensive trials and Indian army initially ordered 124 tanks in March 2000. The first batch of five tanks was delivered in August 2004 and a total of 45 had been delivered by May 2009. The army received all 124 tanks by 2011.
Delays became the death trap:
The development of Arjun MBT began in March 1974. The German developer Krauss Maffei provided the design assistance. Hence, the Arjun closely resembles Leopard 2A4 tank.
Trials of year 1988-89: The tank underwent automotive trials in year 1988 -89 and results were disappointing. The tank had issues in almost in every sphere and specifically in transmission, engine and overall mobility.
Trials of Year 1996-97: After 7 years of rework and internal testing the tank was again up for the trials. The result of these trials was no different from the previous ones if media was to believe. The area to improve were listed as follows:
- Accuracy of gun at battle ranges
- Mission reliability
- Ammunition lethality
- Containerisation of ammunition bin
- Emergency traverse
- Fire control system unable to function in temperatures above 42 degrees Celsius
However Major General H.M. Singh, a director in charge of trial and evaluation, said the user field trial report had certified the accuracy and consistency of the weapon system.
Mahajan Field Firing Ranges (MFFR) 2005 trials:
The electronics of arjun could not stand up to the heat and resulted in complete failure of electronics system. During this test Arjun was to demonstrate its fitness in trials in the Mahajan Field Firing Ranges (MFFR); Army agreed to test arjun involving 5 T-72s and 5 T-90s and 5 Arjuns. However, CVRDE who was developing its first tank learnt the lesson quickly and today its electronics of arjun can function in dead desert without a need for air conditioning.
In the summer of 2008, tank was put into AUCRT (Auxiliary User Cum Reliability Trials). During this test it was reported to have failure of power packs, low accuracy and consistency, failure of hydro-pneumatic suspension units, shearing of top rollers and chipping of gun barrels. Though Auxiliary User Cum Reliability Trials is to make tank live its entire lifecycle in months’ time. Many in army call this as Accelerated user test where tanks must go through the extremes to understand its maximum possible limits.Therefore, despite media misinterpretation the report published by the Government of India confirmed the success of the trial.
Death by delay during economic sanctions:
Post Pokhran II in the year 1998 the United States imposed economic sanctions on India, The sanctions on India consisted of cutting off all assistance to India except humanitarian aid, banning the export of certain defence material and technologies, ending American credit and credit guarantees to India, and requiring the US to oppose lending by international financial institutions to India.
This impacted the timeline of MBT Arjun and in year 2001, India purchased 310 tanks in first lot from Russia, of which 124 were delivered off the shelf while. This was in response to T80 of Pakistan procured from Ukraine. The T90 was a direct evolution of T72 operated by Indian army in large number. In addition, more than 60% of the T72 components were made in India and thus T90 was an obvious choice but certain death for arjun that was nearing completion.
The conspiracy theorists believe that tank has design flaws and thus Indian army do not want to induct the tank in numbers. On the other hand, many questions the requirement of Indian army. In case of India the utility of the tank can be used only in plains of Punjab and desert of Rajasthan. The neighbour on that border operate water downed Chinese tanks, against which the T90M/MS is more than a match.
The Arjun Mark II has an over-all 93 advancements, which includes 13 major enhancements. The major enhancements are following
- Ability to fire missile.
- Panoramic sight with night vision
- Containerisation of the ammunition
- Enhanced main weapon penetration
- Additional ammunition types
- Explosive reactive armour
- An advanced air-defence gun to engage helicopters
- A mine ploughs.
- An advanced land navigation system
- An automatic warning system which can fire smoke grenades.
- An enhanced Auxiliary power unit providing 8.5 KW (Arjun Mk1 had 4.5 KW)
- An improved gun barrels
- Improved commander’s panoramic sight with eye safe LRF, night vision capability including for driver.
With these changes, Arjun MK2 is almost a new tank retaining the designs of arjun Mk1 that pleased the user (Army in this case). Therefore, all the theories around design flaws are baseless until proven otherwise.
Great Indian Logistics
Indian army operates around 2500 T72 and 2000 T90 main battle tank. To add the perspective lets look at the fleets of Britain, Germany and France (comparable economy)
- Britain operates around 230 challenger 2 tanks
- Germany operates around 250 different variant of Leopard tank
- France operates around 400 Leclerc
The total of these is less than half of T90 fleet of Indian army. Such a huge army requires huge training infrastructure, maintenance and Spare parts. T90 and T72 carry some commonality and thus logistics is way simpler. However, in case of arjun the training, Amo, Spares etc required are completely different.
Everything required on Arjun is completely different from T series and threat perception do not requires Indian army to invest further into tank. It appears that Arjun will continue to starve for order because the enormous capital and effort needed to shift the philosophy. However if Pakistan decides to acquire Altay (Which is unlikely after VT5 induction) the scenario might tilt in favour of Arjun.
Source:- Alpha Defense