The Indian Army will conduct final testing of the fully integrated, upgraded Arjun Mark II main battle tanks (MBTs) during the first week of August, in Rajasthan, India.
Unnamed defence sources were quoted by the Press Trust of India, saying that the modified tanks were undergoing field trials in Rajasthan.
The tanks have been fitted with 93 improvements, including 19 major modifications as requested by the army, the sources added.
Designed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO) Combat Vehicles Research & Development Establishment (CVRDE), the Arjun Mark II tank features an improved long-range missile-firing capability, panoramic sight with night-vision, explosive reactive armourand an advanced air-defence gun to engage helicopters.
Other upgrades include an enhanced auxiliary power unit, improved gun barrels, a land navigation system, the commander’s panoramic sight with eye-safe laser range finder (LRF), a digital control harness, a new final drive, track and sprocket, as well as a warning system to fire smoke grenades to confuse enemy laser guidance.
In addition, the tank features an integrated thermal imaging (TI) night-vision that replaces the day-only sight in the Arjun I MBT, enabling night time operations.
Dubbed the lightweight futuristic main battle tank (FMBT), Arjun Mark II is expected to be the potential contender for the replacement of the army’s ageing fleet of 2,400 Russian T-72 tanks.
Scheduled to be ready for delivery from 2013 to 2014, the tank is anticipated to enter operational service with the army from 2020 onwards.
Arjun Mark II development was also supported by the Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE), High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL), Instruments Research & Development Establishment (IRDE), Centre for Fire, Explosive and Environment Safety (CFEES) and the Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory (DMRL).
Image: The Indian Army’s modified Arjun MBT put on display. Photo: courtesy of Ajai Shukla.