Arjun tank is a main battle tank (MBT) developed by DRDO to exacting specifications of the Indian Army for use by Indian Army armoured forces.
The Arjun MK2 is a considerable upgrade to the Arjun MBT and began testing in June 2011 at Pokhran test range in Rajasthan state. The Army has ordered 124 of the Arjun MK2, and given modernization requirements, it is anticipated that more will be ordered. The Arjun MK2 incorporates 93 upgrades over the MK1 version and will be produced in two phases, with the first 30 tanks of phase 1 to be produced by 2014 end.
Some of the technology upgrades intended for the Arjun MK2 have been revealed. These would add to the tanks capabilities. They include:
1. An Advanced Air Defense gun - capable of being operated when the tank crew is "buttoned up" (hatches down)
2. Missile firing capability - The Arjun MK2 is expected to field the LAHAT or a local derivative, the CLGM (Cannon Launched Guided Missile). The missile will be laser guided and able to target other armoured targets and helicopters at extended ranges. Equipped with a tandem warhead, the missile would be able to deal with modern heavily armoured tanks, even those with reactive armour. A laser designator would be added to the Fire Control System to enable LAHAT/CLGM capability. The LAHAT has already been succesfully tested from the Arjun.
3.Automatic Target Tracking - One of the Arjun's key claims to superiority over even the T-90 is its superior fire control system which is capable of giving over 90% Pk (Probability of kill) even against dynamic targets, in part due to its excellent integration with the gun control system, and the Arjun's hydropneumatic suspension which offers a stable platform for engaging fast moving targets. Even so, CVRDE aims to upgrade this FCS with an automatic target tracking system, wherein the gunner would lock onto a target, and the FCS would automatically keep track of it. This would enhance the capability of the Arjun to effectively engage targets, even if the crew had been in extended combat, and the gunner was tired. The ATT will be added to the current FCS and is being developed by DRDO and its primary development partner for the FCS, Delft OIP BE which in turn is working with Sagem. Other systems sourced from India and abroad will remain the same. Over time, the entire FCS is expected to be license manufactured in India, provided the Army orders are sufficient in number to allow for an economic production run. The ATT system would also enable optimal use of any gun launched missile, reducing any chance of operator errors.
4. Explosive Reactive Armour- The DRDO's HEMRL has now developed an Advanced ERA package to be fitted onto the Arjun MK2. Weighing approximately 1.5 tons, the ERA will be fitted to the Arjun across the frontal arc, across the turret top and presumably on the sides as well. It is designed to defeat both modern Anti tank guided missiles as well as kinetic energy rounds.
5. Automatic Land Navigation System - ALNS: Developed and manufactured by Bharat Electronics Ltd with assistance from DRDO, the ALNS combines inertial navigation with satellite update to allow the tank crew to be aware of their position at all times. Current Arjun's have a GPS (Global Positioning System) navigation device, but the Fiber Optic Gyro equipped ALNS would enable Arjun crew to have an estimate of their position, even if GPS was not available.
6.Digital Harness: The Arjun MK2 is stated to incorporate a digital data harness to link its electronics together for information transfer. This would also assist in the integration of the Indian Army's in development Battlefield Management System.
7. Commanders Panoramic Sight with Thermal Imager: Being led by DRDO's IRDE along with its development partners, the CPS with TI, is an upgrade to the current CPS developed by IRDE. The present sight allows the commander to scan the battlefield, all around in azimuth, identify a target, and designate it, handing it to the gunner for engagement and slewing the turret as required. To these hunter killer capabilitities, the upgrade now adds a state of the art thermal imager, which will allow the Arjun commander to identify and engage targets at nighttime.
8.Enhanced Auxiliary Power Unit: The current Arjun has a 4.5 Kw APU, the MK2 will have a 8.5 Kw in order to meet the requirements of all the new electronic systems. The APU allows for the Arjun to operate in silent watch mode. It can still keep its electronics running, scanning for targets without having to turn on its engine, increasing its signature and raising fuel consumption.
9. Signature Management: One of the items to be added to the Arjun is a new signature management system supplied by an European development partner working with an Indian subsidiary. Not only would this assist in conventional camouflage but is also stated to reduce the Arjun's radar and thermal signature.
10. Advanced Defensive Aids: Developed for the Arjun by customizing an Israeli system, the Arjun's new DAS would allow the tank crew to detect any laser aimed at the tank, inform the crew of the threat and its direction, and also allow them to engage defensive countermeasures including aerosol grenades. The DRDO's IRDE has already developed special smoke grenades which inhibit detection by thermal imagers as well as ranging by lasers.
11. Enhanced protection: Apart from the external armour, the Arjun MK2 is expected to have additional upgrades to its internal ammunition storage, with enhanced containerization. Publicly released pictures of the MK1 show that the MK1 already stores its turret and hull ammunition in individual armoured canisters, and the turret has blow off panels. The MK2 is expected to improve further on this arrangement.
12. Enhanced KE ammunition: Reports also note that the DRDO is develooping improved kinetic energy anti tank rounds. In other words the DRDO is developing new versions of the current 120mm fin stabilized armoured piercing discarding sabot rounds (FSAPDS) for the Arjun. A similar improvement program for the 125 mm T-72 is complete, with MK2 125mm FSAPDS superceding the earlier MK1 developed for the tank. Overall, these ammunition improvements would presumably benefit both MK1 and MK2.
Overall, the weight of the MK2, along with a mine plough, is expected to be around 66 Tons. Despite the additional armour, the Mark 2 will have a credible speed of 60 km per hour in normal terrain and 40 km per hour in harsh terrain. Unit cost is expected to be around Rupees 35 Crore. Overall, DRDO hopes to boost its indigenization of key systems and components, even as it adds more sophisticated systems developed in cooperation with international partners.
Arjun MK2 trials began, as per plan, in June 2011. Turret related tests were scheduled from June 11th 2011 onwards, whereas the chassis and automotive tests were from the 25th of June. These trials are developmental trials to evaluate the various upgraded systems, with Army officials as observers. Once development was deemed complete, the Army would hold user trials. The first user trials is currently estimated to be in October 2011 and production would commence from July 2012 after a second user trial. The first batch of MK2, approximately 30 tanks would be ready by the end of 2014.
Phases 1 and 2
In phase 1, 45 tanks will roll out with 56 upgrades, including the missile firing capability and the commander's panoramic sight with night vision. In phase 2, the remaining 79 tanks, with all 93 improvements, will come off the assembly line. Based on current projections it is anticipated that the first batch of approximately 30 tanks will be be ready by 2013-14.
Development Partners: Most of the partners are the same as with the MK1. The below is not a comprehensive list but an indicative one, to signify the scale of the program.
The CVRDE is co-ordinating with Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE), Pune, High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL), Pune, Instruments Research & Development Establishment (IRDE), Dehradun, Centre for Fire, Explosive and Environment Safety, Delhi and Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory, Hyderabad for designing Mark II.
Various private and public sector firms such as the Tata Group, Larsen & Toubro Ltd., small and medium enterprises are supplying various precision items and components, including fire control system components, turret systems, and automotive items. Bharat Electronics Ltd., is also a key partner.
These include several firms from Europe and Israel who are working with the DRDO for select systems.