Wednesday 21 October 2020, 01:25 AM
Tanks upgrade moves ahead, upgraded MBT Arjun accepted
By Sushil Sharma | Bharat Defence Kavach | Publish Date: 4/21/2019 4:28:35 PM
Tanks upgrade moves ahead,  upgraded MBT Arjun accepted

Tanks and armoured troops carriers, also known as  the infantry carrying vehicles (ICV), are the next big things in the Indian Army. While newer tanks like the Arjun Mark1-A have been accepted and production is  set to commence, the older ones like the T-72 will be upgraded with better engines and fighting capability.An upgraded version of the Arjun tank, having better firing and mobility, has been accepted by the Army following month-long validation trials in Rajasthan in December last year.

The Army is looking at 118 pieces of the new version. In 2010-11, the first version of the Arjun had joined the Army and 124 pieces had been ordered. The production of the new version, dubbed as Arjun ‘Mark 1-A’, is likely to commence within this year at the existing facility at Avadi in Tamil Nadu. It has a total of 14 upgrades over the existing version. These include an auto-target tracker, automatic gear system and improvement in suspension.

The Army was okay with the ‘Mark 1-A’ version, but wants the next version to be lighter than its present weight of 68 tonne. Most modern European tanks are of the same weight, and tank-transporters (specialised trucks) for Arjun are available to ferry it. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has approved the procurement of 1,000 new engines for the Indian Army’s T-72 ‘Ajeya’ main battle tank (MBT). The Defence Acquisition Council  (DAC), the MoD’s apex procurement body,  has accorded approval for procurement of 1000 engines of 1000 BHP for fitment in T-72 tanks of the Army under ‘Buy & Make’ category and at an approximate cost of over Rs 2300 crore ($313 million)

A majority of engines will be produced locally by the Engine Factory Avadi (EFA). It is expected to enhance mobility, agility, and acceleration of T-72 tanks. The factory at Avadi is producing two separate engines. The indigenously-produced high-power V-46-6 – it is  based on a Russian design – and has a 780 hp output. The second engine  called the V92S2, has a 1,000 hp output. 

The T-72 fleet – some 1800 of them – are being upgraded with new engines, new fire control systems, reactive armor, fire detection and suppression systems, as well as new communication and navigation systems under the Combat Improved Ajeya program, code-named Project Rhino. 

Then there is  Future Ready Combat Vehicle (FRCV) which the Amry is looking to get 1700 of these.  The Army has down-scaled its requirements to make it more realistic  and the latest document supersedes the RFI  of 2015 which spoke about having 11 variants that has now been whittled down to five. The Army is looking for a baseline MBT platform to have a combat weight of between 42.5 and 58 tons, the same range as the in-service T-72M1s. The platform will be used for need-based variants like bridge layer tank, trawl tank with mine ploughs, armoured recovery vehicle and self-propelled base for other arms.

BMP upgrade  and FICV project: In 2017 the MoD awarded public sector OFB and Bharat Electronics (BEL) a contract for upgrading 693 BMP-2 infantry combat vehicles at a cost of Rs 2,400 crore. These will be fitted with anti-tank guided missile systems and newer engines, improved  transmission, gear and suspension system, cooling system, weapons system and ammunition, gunner sighting (day and night), commander sighting besides protection against anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM’s).

Meanwhile the 10-year-old plan to acquire 2,600 future infantry combat vehicles for the Indian Army at a cost of around Rs 60,000 crore has an uncertain future as "divergent views" have emerged on how to implement the project. 

The FICV was first envisaged in October 2009 and the initial process was started months later. However, the process of selection of private companies, which could indigenously manufacture the combat vehicles, was withdrawn in 2012 and a fresh start was made in 2014. Infantry combat vehicles are used to carry infantry into battle field and are usually equipped with anti-tank missiles and heavy guns. The Army wants the FICVs to replace its Russian-origin BMP-2 infantry combat vehicles. 



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