The order, worth Rs 7,523 crore, will provide a further boost to the 'Make in India' initiative in the defence sector and is a big step towards achieving Aatmanirbhar Bharat

New Delhi: The Defence Ministry on Thursday sealed a contract to procure 118 Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) Arjun for the Indian Army at a cost of Rs 7,523 crore, in a major move to boost its combat capabilities. The defence ministry placed the order for the Arjuna Mark-1A tanks with the Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF), Avadi, Chennai. The MBT Mark-1A is a new variant of Arjun Tank designed to enhance firepower, mobility and survivability, infused with 72 new features and more indigenous content from the Mark-1 variant.

"The Ministry of Defence (MoD) placed an order with Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF), Avadi, Chennai for supply of 118 Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) Arjun Mark-1A for the Indian Army on September 23. The order, worth Rs 7,523 crore, will provide a further boost to the 'Make in India' initiative in the defence sector and is a big step towards achieving Aatmanirbhar Bharat," the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said the tanks would ensure effortless mobility in all terrains, besides precise target engagement during day and night. It has been designed and developed by the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) by incorporating numerous upgrades on Arjun MBT, the in-service main battle tank with the Indian Army.

It said the production order to Heavy Vehicles Factory will open up a large avenue in defence manufacturing for over 200 Indian vendors including MSMEs, with employment opportunities to around 8,000 people. "This will be a flagship project showcasing the indigenous capability in cutting edge defence technologies," the ministry said.

It said the MBT Arjun Markk-1A has been designed and developed by Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE), along with other laboratories of DRDO within two years (2010-12).

How It Is Different From Its Predecessor Arjun Mark-1?

As per the defence ministry, the Mark-1A variant adds 72 new features — 14 major and 58 minor — to the previous variant Mark-1. Apart from the firepower, the Arjun Mark-1A tank has been integrated with automatic target tracking and will allow the crew to track moving objects and target them automatically. The new system will also engage the targets even when the tank is on the move. Other major upgrades include new transmission systems and an improved gunner’s main sight.

Apart from the above-mentioned features, the Mark-1A gun is controlled by a computerised integrated fire control, which ensures that it has a high first-round kill capability. Besides the traditional fin-stabilised armour-piercing discarding sabot and high explosive squash head ammunition, the Mark-1A  can also fire thermobaric and penetration-cum-blast ammunition.

In another major difference with its predecessor, the Arjun Mark-1A is 68 tons heavier than the Arjun Mark 1. The previous model, Arjun Mark-1 weighs 62.5 tons and with the addition of armour and new systems over the years, the Arjun Mark-1A  weighs 68.5 tons. The Arjun tank, first envisaged in 1972, was meant to replace the Russian T-72 that is still in service and was intended to weigh just 48 tons.