NEW DELHI — The latest modification of the Indian Arjun tank, the Arjun MK-1A has received 89 improvements over the previous MK-1 version. The tank was presented just days ago at the local defence and security exhibition DefExpo 2022. 73 of the improvements can also be made on the MK-1, says the Heavy Vehicles Factory [HVF], Avadi.

The Arjun MK-1A is a new design that went into production last year. If we compare the two versions of the tank according to their basic characteristics, we will find very small differences, but they are there. MK-1A is heavier than MK-1 by over 9 tons. This leads to a reduction in top speed. MK-1 moves at 70 km/h, while MK-1A at 58 km/h.

One of the main differences is in the turret of the tank. MK-1A has an integrated remotely operated turret, as well as an increased amount of smoke grenades – 16 (MK-1 has 12). Back on the turret, the MK-1A has improved Kanchan and ERA armour, while the MK1 continues with composite modular armour. Here, the manufacturer says that in the future, the MK-1 may also receive improved armour.

The Indian manufacturer has made some key integrations in the MK-1A. These include the NERA for protection, the gunner’s main sight with the automatic target tracking system, as well as the integration of the commander’s panoramic sight [CPS MK-II]. The tank’s daytime sights are now doubled, and a laser rangefinder and a thermal imaging sight have been added to them. As you can see, serious attention has been paid to the command centre in the tank. The driver now has an uncooled measuring system with binocular vision. In this number, we can include the integration of a new advanced navigation system.

Although the tank moves at a lower top speed than its predecessor, here the manufacturer has made improvements that make the Arjun MK-1A much more secure and mobile in difficult terrain. This is achieved thanks to a new auxiliary power unit. According to HVF, it is twice as powerful as the MK-1. The undercarriage features a new system, thanks to a redesigned hydropneumatic suspension system.

Last but not least is that a large part of the improvements was carried out with a local resource. I.e. India continues to improve and work on Made in India program.

In the past, the Arjun tank had problems with its 120mm main gun. Over the years, New Delhi has invested in developing solutions to ensure the effectiveness of the 120mm gun. Apparently, these investments have paid off. For example, in August of this year, the 120mm gun of the Arjun tank was tested by firing an ATGM. The tests were successful, which improved the lethality of the cannon.

India intends not only to arm itself with the Arjun MK-1A but also to prepare the tank for export. The first signs that the Indian tank was attracting interest came from Bahrain. This happened in March when the two governments began negotiations.

Arjun may turn out to be much more valuable to India now than was thought years ago, when New Delhi spent money mostly on Russian designs, through the purchase of T-90 tanks. Today, Arjun is at the heart of India’s latest launch program – the development of an unmanned ground vehicle. In April this year, India announced these intentions, explicitly emphasizing that the Arjun MK-1 would be at the heart of the entire project.