On 25th May 2009, 16 brand new Arjun Tanks were formally handed over to the Indian Army by the Defence Research & Development Organisation, or DRDO, thus completing the first Arjun Tank regiment.
This was a historic moment and a milestone on the way to self reliance. The Arjun is a state-of-the-art weapon system. Incredible mobility, awesome fire power, great power to weight ratio, enhanced armour protection, Laser Warning System, GPS, missile firing capability and other and almost everything that places of modern western MBTs.
The ride of the Arjun from drawing board to the field formations was not so smooth. The DRDO worked hard and met the technical challenges through indigenous developments (60%), imports and collaborations (total 40%). Its greatest achievements were the development of 120mm Rifled gun, Kanchan Armour, Gunner's Main Sight, Battle Management System and hydro-pneumatic suspension system. The Kanchan Armour, developed by Defence Matallurgical Research Laboratory, Hyderabad, is comparable to British 'Chobham' system, which is one of the best in the world.
Apart from the Kanchan Armour, the Arjun is also fitted with Laser Warning system and 9 Smoke grenade launchers for protection. DRDO developed the Hydro-pneumatic suspension for the tank that uses compressed Nitrogen as a springing agent with Hydraulic shock absorbers to dumb resonance. This suspension system ensures a smooth ride for the users and plays a key role when tank fires while running at a speed of 40Km.
The Russian T-series tanks have a Torsion bar suspension, but after looking at the performance of the hydro-pneumatic suspension developed by the DRDO, they are thinking of using that in their next generation tank. The 120mm Rifled gun of the tank can fire missiles, FSAPDS (Fin Stabilised Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot), HE (High-Explosive), HEAT (High-Explosive Anti tank) and HESH (High-Explosive Squash Head) ammunition with precision at a rate of 6-8 rounds per minute.
Again this gun has changed the trend of Smoothbore guns being used in the T-series tanks. Accuracy of the Rifled gun is better than Smoothbore guns. Arjun's main gun has successfully fired the Israeli LAHAT missile, which has a range of 8 KM with high penetration capability of 800mm. A special 120mm anti aircraft/helicopter round is under development and will use proximity fuse mechanism. The tank can carry 39 rounds in special blast-proof canisters to enhance crew protection. The tank is also armed with a 12.7 mm anti air machine gun and a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun.
Image: The Arjun Main Battle Tank Mark I. All pictures courtesy and copyright Bharat Rakshak. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.