Indian Army will soon have 118 indigenous Arjun Mk-1A Main Battle Tanks in its fleet. On Tuesday (February 23, 2021) the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by defence minister Rajnath Singh gave its approval to the Indian Army’s proposal to buy 118 Arjun Mark 1-A ‘Hunter Killers’. According to sources, the Indian Army will soon issue the Request for Proposal (RFP) to the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), for 118 Arjun Mk-1A Main Battle Tanks. It will be at least a year before the process is finalized and the contract is inked.
This will be the second biggest contract for the indigenously manufactured platforms for the Indian Armed Forces this year. The first was the recently signed deal for 83 Light Combat Aircraft `Tejas’ between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Ministry of Defence for the Indian Air Force (IAF).
What was announced?
The proposal worth Rs 8,380-crore for the Indian Army was given the Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) by the DAC.
According to the statement which puts the three AoNs in the highest priority category of defence acquisition, it states, “Three AoNs for an overall cost of Rs 13,700 crore were accorded. And, these will be indigenously designed, developed and manufactured.”
Though no specific platforms were mentioned in the official statement, according to sources, the approvals are for 118 main battle tanks, and equipping the armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) with modern protection and countermeasure systems.
The protection systems for the army’s fleet of more than 3,000 AFVs (tanks and infantry combat vehicles) is expected to cost around Rs 5,300 crore.
The order for the MBT `Arjun’ is expected to be placed with the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) soon. And once the deal is firmed up around five tanks are expected to be rolled out in 30 months and thereafter 30 tanks every year.
More about the 118 indigenous Arjun Mk-1A Main Battle Tanks
The approval was given for Arjun Mk-1A MBT, which is an upgraded version of the Arjun Mk-1 which the Indian Army is using presently.
The new version of the Arjun will come with 71 upgrades, including 14 major improvements.
These upgrades are expected to significantly improve not only the tank’s lethality, also its mobility and survivability.
Also, according to a senior officer, the new variant of the tank will have better firepower; advanced land navigation systems and improved night vision capabilities.
There will also be other features including the advanced laser warning and countermeasure systems, and containerized ammunition bin.
The tanks are going to be manufactured at the OFB’s Heavy Vehicles Factory at Avadi, Chennai. This tank has been designed and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s Chennai-based Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE).
Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had handed over a prototype of the Arjun Mk-1A tank to the Indian Army Chief General MM Naravane in Chennai. This had undergone tests across the Western Sector and covered almost 6000 km as well as another round of 1,500 km of intense testing.
Atmanirbhar Bharat in Defence
Once the deal is inked almost 200 companies are expected to be part of this huge project and around 8,000 jobs are going to be created.
There are T-90, T-72 and the Arjun Mk-1 tanks in the Indian Army’s fleets.
This will be the last order for the MBT Arjun as the Indian Army is keen on getting lighter tanks.
Protection and countermeasure systems for its AFVs
These help in enhancing the survivability of AFVs and protect them against the threats from missiles, rocket-propelled grenades and tank ammunition.
The upgrades will help in boosting the fighting potential of the Indian Army.
Emergency procurement order placed for M4 armoured vehicles for the Indian Army
Besides the Main Battle Tank `Arjun’ Mk-1A tanks, on Tuesday (February 23, 2021) orders emergency order was placed by the Indian Army for the procurement of M4 armoured vehicles.
These vehicles as has been reported earlier have undergone intensive tests in Ladakh during the standoff with China in 2020. These vehicles are going to be purchased from Pune-based private sector company Bharat Forge of the Kalyani group.
An official company statement shared with the media on Tuesday, stated clearly that it had “An order worth Rs 177.95 crore has been received from the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) for the supply of Kalyani M4 vehicles”.
What are these vehicles used for?
According to a former Indian Army officer, such wheeled armoured vehicles are required for transporting troops and have the capability of being operated in high altitudes.
The Indian Army has placed an emergency order as it needs these wheeled armoured vehicles on urgent basis for its inventory.
Capabilities of Kalyani M4
These armoured vehicles which have undergone intensive trials in high altitudes along with other competitors come with certain extra features as compared to the regular vehicles.
These vehicles are going to be built at the Pune based facility and have been designed to meet the complex requirements of the Indian Armed Forces.
It is a multi-role platform, and has the capability of quick mobility in rough terrain and those areas which are affected by IED & mine threats.
According to the company, this vehicle has ballistic and blast protection from up to 50 kg TNT side blast, or IED or roadside bombs, all because of the design.
It is built on a flat-floor monocoque hull and has a thrust speed of 140 km per hour.
With a payload of 2.3 tonnes, it can operate in a range of about 800 km.
The original product is from South African Paramount Group, whose M4 has been modified as per the Indian conditions and requirements of the end user by Bharat Forge.
This was possible because of a deal between the two companies to pool in their expertise, share technology and capabilities for manufacturing armoured vehicles in India, under the `Make in India’ initiative.