The Mk 1A variant, for which price negotiations have recently concluded, is an interim step between this and the original Mk 1. It is understood that the Mk 1A incorporates some of the Mk 2 improvements, including mine ploughs and additional ERA.

India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has concluded negotiations with the state-owned Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) to acquire 118 units of the indigenously developed Arjun Mk1A main battle tank (MBT) for the Indian Army (IA) for an estimated INR66 billion (USD888.7 million).

Official sources told Jane’s on 18 March that an “order of intent” will be placed “imminently” by the MoD with the OFB’s Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF) at Avadi in southern India for this upgraded variant of the Arjun, which features 72 improvements, including 14 major ones, over the Mk 1 model.

The impending order will also feature a two-year engineering and support package that will include maintenance, spares and simulator training for the tank crews.

Deliveries are expected to begin within 30 months of the contract being signed and be completed within four to five years, OFB officials told Jane's .

Once inducted, the upgraded Arjun Mk 1As, which were approved for procurement by the IA in late 2018 following validation trials, will supplement 124 Arjun Mk 1s that joined the service from 2004 onwards.

Engineers at the DRDO’s Chennai-based Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE), which designed the Arjun, said the Mk 1A’s enhancements include advanced thermal-imaging sights for night-time fighting, improved navigation systems, a digital control harness and a mine plough.

According to Dr P Shiv Kumar, who used to head the CVRDE, the Mk 1A variant – which like the Mk 1 is operated by a four-man crew – is also fitted with a new panoramic sight for the tank commander, a more powerful auxiliary power unit (8.5 kW capacity) and an enhanced communication system capable of real-time data transmission.

The Mk 1A’s hull and turret, he said, have been modified to give the MBT a lower silhouette to make detection more difficult.