Arjun tanks failed to deliver on many fronts: defence ministry

May 5th, 2008 - 10:00 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, May 5 (IANS) The defence ministry Monday admitted in Parliament that the indigenous main battle tank (MBT) Arjun has shown some recurring defects, besides having some faulty parts, in the just-concluded winter trials. “Failure of power packs, lower accuracy and consistency have been noticed during the ongoing Accelerated User Cum Reliability Trials by the Army,” Minister of State for Defence (production) Rao Inderjit Singh told the Lok Sabha.

“During the trial, the tank also witnessed shearing of top rollers and chipping of gun barrels,” Singh added.

Last year, 14 Arjun tanks had been handed over to the Indian Army for user trials, but were returned to the manufacturer - the Combat Vehicles Development Establishment - with a list of defects.

These included a deficient fire control system, inaccuracy of its guns, low speeds in tactical areas - principally the desert - and the tank’s inability to operate in temperatures over 50 degrees Celsius.

Army Chief Gen Deepak Kapoor had gone to the Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF) in Tamil Nadu April 24 to inspect the Arjun tank after it failed the winter trials.

The army had told a key parliamentary panel earlier this month that the Arjun tank, which has been in development for nearly 36 years, had failed to deliver at the just-concluded winter trials in Rajasthan. After the winter trials, conducted at below 40 degrees Celsius, the army said the tank needed a lot of improvement before it could be inducted.

Kapoor and his predecessor J.J. Singh have on separate occasions expressed their unhappiness with the tank.

“What we have today is a mid-level technology. What we need is a tank of international quality,” Kapoor had said in November.

J.J. Singh had spoken in much the same vein during a major Indian Army exercise in the deserts of Rajasthan in April-May 2007.

The army had laid down its qualitative requirement (QR) for the Arjun in 1972. In 1982, it was announced that the prototype was ready for field trials. However, the tank was publicly unveiled for the first time only in 1995.

Arjun was originally meant to be a 40-tonne tank with a 105 mm gun. It has now grown to a 50-tonne tank with a 120 mm gun.

The tank was meant to supplement and eventually replace the Soviet-era T-72 MBT that was first inducted in the early 1980s.

However, delays in the Arjun project and Pakistan’s decision to purchase the T-80 tank from Ukraine prompted India to order 310 T-90s, an upgraded version of the T-72, in 2001.

Of these, 186 were assembled from kits at the HVF at Avadi. An agreement was also signed for the licensed production of another 1,000 T-90s.

With the development of the Arjun delayed further, India last year signed a fresh contract with Russia to buy another 330 T-90s.

The summer trials will be conducted in Rajasthan soon.

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