SP's LandForces - - SP’S EXCLUSIVES -

The Ar­jun Mk.II main battle tank has cleared all user tri­als with the In­dian Army suc­cess­fully and now awaits a main­te­nance eval­u­a­tion by the Army and, cru­cially, a de­tailed eval­u­a­tion by the Direc­tor Gen­eral of Qual­ity As­sur­ance (DGQA). The Army has on or­der 118 tanks that will begin de­liv­ery once th­ese two fi­nal eval­u­a­tion pro­cesses are com­plete, likely by mid-2015. The Phase IV user tri­als demon­strated trench cross­ing and step climb­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the Mk.II tank start­ing in Septem­ber 2014. Last year, dy­namic tri­als of 120mm pen­e­tra­tion-cum-blast (PCB) ammunition for MBT Ar­jun Mk II were con­ducted suc­cess­fully at the Proof and Ex­per­i­men­tal Estab­lish­ment at Chandipur.

The Ar­jun Mk.II will con­ceiv­ably begin en­ter­ing ser­vice in 2016. With the al­ready in­ducted fleet of 124 Ar­jun Mk.I tanks in two reg­i­ments in Ra­jasthan, the Army will be set to op­er­ate a to­tal of four Ar­jun reg­i­ments. But the good news for the Ar­jun pro­gramme po­ten­tially ends right here. As SP’s re­ported ear­lier, there are un­likely to be fur­ther or­ders for the Ar­jun tank of any type. The to­tal num­ber (242 tanks) on or­der is far from good news: The DRDO has said that any or­der be­low 500 tanks (in a mix of Mk.I and Mk.II) makes Project Ar­jun a dead loss. This is pre­cisely what it is likely to be, which is why prod­ucts based on the Ar­jun chas­sis (bridge-layer tank, self­pro­pelled ar­tillery) or Ar­jun tur­ret (TankX) are be­ing pushed too. But for the Ar­jun tank it­self, the fresh or­der could be a death knell. The Army is keen that the DRDO fo­cuses on a fu­tur­is­tic main battle tank. Of couse, this Army-DRDO con­ver­sa­tion con­tin­ues at a time when the very ef­fi­cacy of ar­moured land force is be­ing ques­tioned at the macro war-fight­ing level in the re­gion.

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