Prime Minister Modi Hands Over Arjun Mark 1A Tanks To Indian Army In Tamil Nadu

Prime Minister Modi Hands Over Arjun Mark 1A Tanks To Indian Army In Tamil NaduArjun Mark-II Tank during rehearsal for Republic Day Parade. (Mohd Zakir/Getty Images)
Snapshot
  • The new version of the tank, which weighs 68 tonnes and features a 120 mm main gun, has 72 improvements — 14 major and 58 minor — over the version currently in service with the Army.

Today, nearly three months after he rode on an Arjun tank near Longewala in Rajasthan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi handed over the first Arjun Mark 1A main battle tanks (MBT) to Army chief General MM Naravane in Chennai.

The Indian Army will be inducting 118 Arjun Mark 1As, an improved version of the Mark-1 version of the MBT.

The new version of the tank, which weighs 68 tonnes and features a 120 mm main gun, has 72 improvements — 14 major and 58 minor — over the version currently in service with the Army.

Some of the major improvements in the new MBT include upgraded firepower, new transmission systems, an improved gunner’s main sight, integrated with automatic target tracking and day-and-night stabilised sights to enable the tank to engage enemy targets accurately and even when it is on the move.

The Indian Army currently operates two regiments of 124 Arjun Mark 1s in the desert sector along the border with Pakistan in Rajasthan.

Given that the Indian Army has had issues with its weight, it is unlikely to place more orders for the tank beyond the 118 that will be inducted now. Instead, it is keen on inducting tanks it can operate both in the plains and in high altitude areas like Ladakh, which has seen large-scale deployment of armour during the ongoing standoff with China at Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley and Depsang.

“Light and medium tanks have an advantage in multi-spectrum deployability, employability and capability in the varied terrain that the army operates in,” Lt General AB Shivane, former Director-General mechanised forces, told India Today.

The Arjun tank has been designed by the DRDO’s Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment and is produced by the Ordnance Factory Board’s Heavy Vehicles Factory in Avadi near Chennai.

While the project began in 1970, the induction of the tank began only in 2004. An improved version of the tank was proposed in 2010, and this resulted in the development of Arjun Mark 1A.

While the Army wanted the tank to be capable of firing cannon-launched guided missiles, Arjun Mark 1As will be inducted without this capability.

Originally, the new version (Mark 1A) was to have over 80 improvements over the Mark 1 version of the MBT, including 15 major ones.

Among other things, Prime Minister Modi will inaugurate the Chennai Metro Rail Phase-I extension, fourth Railway line between Chennai Beach and Attipattu, Railway Electrification of single line section on the Villupuram - Cuddalore - Mayiladuthurai - Thanjavur and Mayiladuthurai-Thiruvarur section during his Tamil Nadu visit.

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