‘Mark1-A’ version to have better firing capability, mobility, lesser weight

An upgraded version of the Arjun tanks that has better firing and mobility is presently undergoing validation trials. ‘Arjun Mark 1A’ was being validated at trials, the Parliament was informed this week. This was the first official confirmation and the ‘Mark 1A’ will be an a additional version of the tank till ‘Mark 2’ version, which is somewhat lighter in weight, is readied, okayed and accepted.

Sources said it was a significant development as it showed that the Ministry of Defence was ready to keep on improving the tank, be it the addition of more power or reducing its weight.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Indian Army had, in the first half of this year, agreed on accepting the new version. In all, the Army is looking to have 118 pieces. A total of 93 modifications have been done over the first version of Arjun, 124 of which were inducted in 2010-11. 

Sources said the Army was okay with the tank, but wanted it to be lighter than its present weight of 68 tonne. Most modern European tanks are of the same weight and tank-transporters (specialised trucks) for Arjun are available to ferry it.

The ‘Mark 2’ will have to be lighter by some 3 tonne and be in the range of 65 tonne. This may require some modification in the hull of the tank for the final contours to emerge. 

As part of the arrangement with the Army, the DRDO has promised to set up a system to maintain the Arjuns within India. It will be an annual maintenance contract with the Bharat Earth Movers Limited as a possible agency.

The tanks, as part of the trials, had already done some 4,000 km of run and only the upgrades were being tested now, said sources.