ARJUN MK.II TANK CLEARS ALL ARMY TRIALS
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.