Arjun tanks to be tested against Russian T-90s before May
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Last Updated: Saturday, January 16, 2010, 21:53
New Delhi: With the first Arjun tank regiment completing its conversion trials, the Army is readying to test the indigenous MBT's mettle against the proven Russian T-90s in the early half of the year.

"Army is preparing for comparative trials against the Russian T-90s in the early half of this year ... before May," a senior Army officer said on Saturday.

The Army had completed its first regiment's fleet of 40 Arjun MBTs last May when 16 of the Combat Vehicle Research and Development Establishment-built tanks were handed over to it by the Heavy Vehicles Factory in Avadi near Chennai.

However, the Army has placed orders for only 124 Arjuns in all as yet and there have been enough indications that further orders may not come through, as the Army was now looking at a futuristic MBT that could be operational beyond 2020.

It was also felt by the Army's Mechanised Forces circles that Arjuns could serve the Army only for about a decade as the technology and design of the tanks were on the verge of obsolescence already.

Having taken nearly 37 years to have a regiment of the indigenous tanks since the project was approved, the tanks have changed designs from a 40-tonne class vehicle with a 105-mm gun at the conception stage to 50-tonne vehicle with a 201-mm gun during production.

"For such a delay and design changes, Arjun tanks have proved to be a worthy combat vehicle for Indian deserts during the conversion trials and a third-party audit," the officer said.

The Arjun project was approved in 1972 and the first prototype of the tanks was readied in 1982 and publicly displayed in 1995.

However, during its development stages, several structural and design flaws were identified by the DRDO and the Army that were later rectified.

Now that the Army had got delivery of the first 40 tanks to complete its first of the three regiments that would operate Arjuns, the indigenous MBT is likely to be put through comparative summer trials against the 45-tonne T-90s between March and May this year.

Meant to come as replacements for the aging T-72 MBTs of Russian origin, the mainstay of Indian combat vehicle fleet since the 1980s, the delay in Arjun's production made India go in for T-90s from Russia.

First, an order for 310 T-90s was placed with Russia and it was followed up with 330-tank order in 2006. Again, in 2007, another order for 1,000 tanks was placed.

While the first 310 were bought directly from Russia, the rest of the orders were for licensed production of the tanks within India.

The licensing issues were only sorted as recently as last year, with Russia agreeing to provide all technical knowhow to India for indigenous production of the tank.

In all, India would have about 35 regiments of T-90s in its armoured fleet by 2020.


First Published: Saturday, January 16, 2010, 21:53

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