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Arjun MBT

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Arjun MBT

Arjun MBT

Arjun MBT conducting driving test on sand berms
Type Main battle tank
Place of origin  India
Production history
Designer CVRDE, DRDO
Designed March 1974–present
Manufacturer Heavy Vehicles Factory, Avadi
Unit cost INR17.2 crore ()[6]
Produced 2004–present
Number built 124 (124 Mk-I and 124 Mk-II ordered)[1][2][3][4][5]
Variants Tank EX
Weight 58.5 tonnes (57.6 long tons; 64.5 short tons)
Length 10.638 metres (34 ft 10.8 in)
Width 3.864 metres (12 ft 8.1 in)
Height 2.32 metres (7 ft 7 in)
Crew 4 (commander, gunner, loader and driver)

Armor steel/composite Kanchan armour.
120 mm rifled tank gun
LAHAT anti-tank missile
NSV 12.7mm AA MG
Mag 7.62 mm Tk715 coaxial MG[7]
Engine MTU 838 Ka 501 diesel
1,400 hp (1,040 kW)
Power/weight 23.9hp/tonne,[8]
Transmission Renk epicyclic train gearbox, 4 fwd + 2 rev gears
Suspension hydropneumatic
Ground clearance 0.45 metres (1 ft 6 in)
Fuel capacity 1,610 litres (350 imp gal; 430 US gal)
450 kilometres (280 mi)[7]
Speed 72 km/h (45 mph) Road[7]

40 km/h (25 mph) Cross country[7]

The Arjun (Sanskrit: अर्जुन) is a third generation[9][10] main battle tank developed by India's Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), for the Indian Army. The tank is named for Arjun, a character in the Indian epic, Mahabharata.

The Arjun features a 120 mm main rifled gun with indigenously developed APFSDS ammunition, one 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun, and a 12.7 mm machine gun. It is powered by a single MTU multi-fuel diesel engine rated at 1,400 hp, and can achieve a maximum speed of 70 km/h (43 mph) and a cross-country speed of 40 km/h (25 mph). It has a four-man crew: commander, gunner, loader and driver. Automatic fire detection and suppression and NBC protection systems are included. All-round anti-tank warhead protection by the newly developed Kanchan armour is claimed to be much higher than available in comparable third generation tanks.[11]

In March 2010, the Arjun was pitted against the T-90 in comparative trials and performed well. Subsequently delays and other problems in its development from the 1990s to the 2000s prompted the Indian Army to order T-90S tanks from Russia to meet requirements that the Arjun had been expected to fulfill.[11][12]

Army placed an order for an additional 124 Arjun Mk-I tanks on 17 May 2010 and 124 Arjun Mk-II Tanks on 9 August 2010.[1][13][14][15]

The Arjun entered service with the Indian Army in 2004.[16] The tanks were first inducted into the 43rd Armoured Regiment, Indian Army Armoured Corps, which was later built up to regiment strength in 2009,[16] while the latest induction has been into the 75th Armoured Regiment on 12 March 2011.[17]


Planning and development

The DRDO, with its Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE) as the main laboratory, was tasked to develop the hull, armour, turret, running gear and gun for the tank, with the powerpack being imported.[18]

Although the development of the tank began in 1972 by the CVRDE, it was only in 1996 that the Indian government decided to mass-produce the tank at Indian Ordnance Factory's production facility in Avadi.[11][19]

When first accepted for service in the army, the Arjun relied heavily on foreign components and technology. Initially close to 50% of the tank's components were imported, which included the engine, transmission, gun barrel, tracks, and fire control system.[20] However, several of these have since been replaced by indigenous systems or are being supplied by Indian companies.[21][22] Recent comments from Army sources indicate that the Russian T-90S will form the mainstay of its future force, despite that tank’s performance issues in hot weather.

The Arjun project experienced serious budget overruns and repeated delays that resulted in a development time of over 37 years. A complicating factor was that advances in technology and the threat environment in the intervening years led to multiple revision of requirements by the Army. While the government sanctioned INR15.5 crore () for the initial design in May 1974,[18] by 1995, DRDO had spent INR300 crore () on development due to changing requirements and inflationary cost increases.[23]

Production and deployment

The Indian Army ordered 124 Arjuns in 2000,[24] expected to cost US$471.2 million.[6]

Early development versions of the Arjun were held by 43 Armoured Regiment which were shown in display in the Republic Day Parade of 2001.[25] The first batch of 16 production version Arjun tanks were received in 2004[16][26] and they were provided as a squadron to the 43rd Armoured Regiment. The regiment was later made up to 45 tanks on 25 May 2009 making it the first Arjun regiment of the Indian Army.[16][27] More than 100 tanks have been delivered to the Indian Army by June 2011.[28] The latest regiment to be completely equipped by the Arjun tank is 75 Armoured Regiment which was the last regiment in the Indian Army to hold the T-55 tank.[17]


As part of improving the Arjun to the Mark-II variant, DRDO is continuing to develop new technology systems for MBT Arjun, in order to improve performance in areas like automatic target locating, tracking and destruction.[29] The Arjun MK-II variant is being developed in coordination with and with the involvement of the Indian Army and will feature several modifications that are being sought by it.[5]

DRDO is developing the Tank Urban Survival Kit which is a series of improvements to the Arjun intended to improve fighting ability in urban environments which includes defensive aids like laser warning, IR jammer, and aerosol smoke grenade system.[30][31]

CVRDE is in the process of developing tank simulators.[29]

DRDO is developing a Laser Warning Control System (LWCS) in cooperation with Elbit Limited of Israel to be equipped on the Arjun at regimental level trials with T-90s. The MCS is being developed by DRDO to help the tank reduce the threat of interference from all types of sensors and smart munitions of the enemy in the tank's systems. LWCS includes the defensive aids mentioned, and will help reduce the signatures of the tank in the battle field and improve its survivability. DRDO is also co-developing the and Mobile Camouflaging System (MCS) technology along with a Gurgaon-based private sector defence manufacturer Barracuda Camouflaging Limited.

The upgrade also includes a new improved 1500 hp engine.[32][33] An anti-helicopter round is under development as well.[11]


Weighing in at 58.5 tons, the Arjun tank is significantly heavier than the Soviet-legacy tanks used presently by the Indian Army, and required changes to the army's logistics establishment, including new railroad cars to transport the bigger and heavier Arjuns. The required logistical changes have been made but the cost of the whole project has increased.


Armed with a 120 mm rifled gun, the Arjun is believed to be capable of firing APFSDS (Kinetic Energy) rounds, HE, HEAT, High Explosive Squash Head (HESH) rounds at the rate of 6-8 rounds per minute and the Israeli developed semi-active laser guided LAHAT missile. The LAHAT is a gun-launched missile and is designed to defeat both enemy armour and enemy combat helicopters. In addition, the Arjun is armed with a 12.7 mm AA machine gun and a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun.[34] The Arjun can carry 39 rounds in special blast-proof canisters. The Arjun uses a manual loader and has a crewman to reload the gun.

Fire control and navigation

The computerised fire control system aboard Arjun has been jointly developed by DRDO with the Elbit,Israel.[35] The Fire Control System is stabilised on two axes, and with an extremely high hit probability (design criteria call for a greater than 0.9 Pk) replaces an earlier analogue one, which had problems due to its inability to function under the harsh desert conditions.[19] The combined day sight from Bharat Electronics Ltd. and the thermal imager (formerly from Sagem, now reported to be from El-Op) constitute the gunner's primary sight. The first batch of tanks of the 124 ordered by the Army will have an all-digital Sagem FCS, whereas the second block will have the BEL unit, which will be used for all units thereafter. The commander's own stabilised panoramic sight allows him to engage targets and/or hand them over to the gunner.[36] The Arjun has an auxiliary power unit to operate weapon systems in silent watch mode as well.[11][37][38]

The tank incorporates GPS-based navigation systems and sophisticated frequency hopping radios. The state-of-the-art Battlefield Management System, co-developed by DRDO and Ebit Israel, allows it to network with other fighting units.[39] The Arjun has the capability to network with other tanks, thanks to its Battle Management System. In a search and engage operation, several Arjun tanks can monitor an opponent and his moves, and try to eliminate him in a chase or ambush.[11][37][38]


The turret and glacis are heavily armoured and use "Kanchan" ("gold") modular composite armour. The Kanchan armour got its name from Kanchan Bagh, Hyderabad, where the Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory (DMRL) is located.[40] The armour is made by sandwiching composite panels between Rolled Homogenous Armor (RHA) to defeat APFDS or HEAT rounds. During the trials in 2000, the Kanchan was able to withstand a hit from a T-72 at point blank range, and was able to defeat all available HESH and APFSDS rounds, which included the Israeli APFSDS rounds.[40] A new honeycomb design non-explosive and non-energetic reactive armour (NERA) armour is reportedly being tested on the Arjun. Nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) protection equipment mine sweeps and an automatic fire fighting system. Electromagnetic-counter mine system can also be installed an electromagnetic pulse to disable magnetic mines and disrupt electronics before the tank reaches them signature reduction suite is also available for the is designed to reduce the probabilities of an object to be detected by Infrared, Thermal, Radar-Thermal, and Radar bands.[39]electro-optical/IR "dazzlers" Laser warning receivers,aerosol grenade discharging systems and a computerised control system.the tank has been 'painted' by a weapon-guidance laser and allows the crew to slew the turret to face the threat. The infrared jammer, laser rangefinders and designators navigation (Inertia/GPS), observation systems and sensors, real-time command and beyond-vision-range target engaging.advanced Fire Control System (FCS) linked to a millimetre band radar system laser range-finder and crosswind sensoronboard millimetre band radar, IR and radiometer sensors. The millimetre band radar system mounted on the turret is capable of operating as a Missile Approach Warning System (MAWS) Visual and Infrared Screening Smoke also has a Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) and radar jammer. Four all-bearing Laser warning receivers (LWR)The new fire-control system enables the Arjun to shoot down helicopters and find and destroy armoured attack helicopters Battle Management System Battle Management System panoramic sight The commander's station is equipped with eight periscopes for 360° vision.ommander's independent thermal viewer, weapon station, position navigation equipment, and a full set of controls and displays linked by a digital data bus.improved fire control system.[18] The System Enhancement Package (SEP) added digital maps,improved cooling system to compensate for heat generated by the additional computer systems.FBCB2 capabilities,FBCB2 capabilities,New radars,EW Systems,C4ISR Systems,gun control system (GCS).[9]Integrated Battlefield Management System" (IBMS) and Active protection System.[41]

A Mobile Camouflage System has been developed and integrated into the Arjun as part of the 'Development of Defensive Aids System' project.[42] in collaboration with Barracuda Camouflage Limited,to reduce the vehicle signature against all known sensors and smart munitions.

An Advanced Laser Warning Countermeasure System (ALWCS) for the fire control system has been developed. This consists of a laser warning system, Infra-Red (IR) jammer and aerosol smoke grenade system. This is being developed jointly with Elbit Systems Limited of Israel. The ALWCS has been integrated on Arjun MBT and trials have been carried out.[42][43]


The engine and transmission are provided by German companies MTU and Renk respectively.[44] The water-cooled engine generates 1,400 hp and is integrated with an Indian turbocharger and epicyclic train gearbox with four forward and 2 reverse gears.[45] A local transmission is under trials and it is envisioned to ultimately replace the Renk-supplied unit.[44] The tracks which were being supplied by German company Diehl are now being manufactured by L&T.[44] The cooling pack has been designed for desert operations. The Arjun has a lower ground pressure than the lighter T-72, due to its design.[44]

The Arjun features a hydro-pneumatic suspension.[46] This coupled with the Arjun's stabilisation and fire control system allows the tank excellent first-hit probability against moving targets while on the move.[46] Its ride comfort is highly praised.[46] Though on the negative side, it is a more maintenance-intensive and expensive system, even if more capable than the simpler and cheaper torsion bar system utilised on many older tanks worldwide.[47] During trials, the Arjun showcased its fording capability, by driving under six feet of water for 20 minutes.[48]

A new 1500 hp engine is being developed that will eventually replace the present engine. An allocation of INR40 crore () has been allocated for the project which is expected to be completed within five years.[49]

Trials and exercise

In 1988-1989 two prototypes underwent automotive trials, which revealed major deficiencies in mobility, engine, and transmission.[50]

Several prototypes underwent extensive mobility and armament trials, in 1996 and 1997. The Army found the performance of the prototypes below the acceptable standards and listed deficiencies in the following areas:[50]

  • Accuracy of gun at battle ranges
  • Mission reliability
  • Ammunition lethality
  • Containerisation of ammunition bin
  • Emergency traverse
  • Fire control system unable to function in temperatures above 42 degrees Celsius (108 degrees Fahrenheit).[51]

During summer trials in 2005, it was reported that the Arjun suffered major problems with its main gun sight, suspension system, and fire control system. Moreover, engine failures occurred commonly in temperatures averaging 55-60 degrees Celsius.[52]

There are conflicting accounts of Arjun's trial results in 2006. In 2007, Major General H.M. Singh, a director in charge of trial and evaluation, said that the last year's user field trial report had certified that the accuracy and consistency of the weapon system was proved beyond doubt."[53][54] However, the 2006 army trial results showed that "the decade-old problems of overheating persist" and that "tank’s main subsystems, the fire control system (FCS) and integrated gunner’s main sight, which includes a thermal imager and laser range-finder, are rendered erratic and useless by the Arjun’s abnormally high peak internal temperature, which moves well beyond 55 degrees Celsius. This is in testimony to the Parliamentary committee."[55]

In 2007 the Arjun tank was fielded during the Ashwamedha exercise in the deserts of Rajasthan.[56] The army was extremely unhappy with the tank, citing 14 defects that included "deficient fire control system", "inaccuracy of its guns", "low speeds in tactical areas" and "inability to operate over 50 degrees Celsius".[57] "The Army is now faced with a troubling prospect: inducting a lumbering, misfiring, vintage design tank like the Arjun, and that, too, in large numbers".[55] This, after DRDO over-shot Arjun’s project deadline by 16 years — from 1984 to 1995, finally closing the project only in 2000 — and the cost overrun is almost 20 times the original estimate. This is the highest percentage overrun for any DRDO project.[55]

With the September 2007 winter trials, the Indian army deemed Arjun's performance unsatisfactory, including at least four engine failures.[58] DRDO, on the other hand, insisted the tank was a viable choice for adoption and suggested the unsatisfactory performance of the engine during the winter trials was due to sabotage.[12]

The Auxiliary User Cum Reliability Trials (AUCRT) of the Arjun MBT were conducted from September 2007 to summer of 2008. In a report to the Parliamentary standing committee the Indian army deemed Arjun's performance unsatisfactory, including four engine failures within only 1000 kilometres.[59] The defence minister presented this report before the parliament, later published by Press Information Bureau Government of India (PIB).[60]

The Army wrote in the report that during the "accelerated user-cum-reliability trials" in 2008, the Arjun "was found to have failure of power packs, low accuracy and consistency, failure of hydropneumatic suspension units, shearing of top rollers and chipping of gun barrels".[23] Sabotage was suspected, but the Army rejected that any sabotage happened during the trials.[12][61] A later report published by the Government of India during the induction ceremony of the Arjun tank, confirms the success of the trial. "An independent evaluation of the tank by a reputed tank manufacturer found that the MBT Arjun is an excellent tank with very good mobility and fire power characteristics."[62] DRDO installed an instrument to function as a black box in the Arjun, following attempts to "sabotage" its engine.[63]

Subsequently in September 2008, the Indian Army signed a deal with Russia to import 347 T-90 tanks and license build a further 1000.[64][65][66] Transfer of key T-90 technologies has also been agreed upon as a part of the deal.[67][68]

In 2008, the Indian Army announced plans to acquire an entirely new main battle tank unrelated to the Arjun, to be inducted after 2020.[69] The Indian Army has held an "international seminar on future MBTs", during which the parameters and requirements of this future MBT were identified.[69] As a result, Russia has offered to team with India on developing this future tank.[70][71] According to Jane's, the Indian Army had confirmed that the Arjun's production will be capped at 124 units.

According to the testimony to the Indian Parliament in the winter of 2008 by the Defense Minister, the Arjun's defects have been rectified "periodically", and the army has "categorically" indicated Arjun's performance as satisfactory. 124 Arjun tanks will be inducted into the army, one regiment by the end of 2008 and the next regiment by the summer of 2009. The tanks will enter service with 140 Armoured Brigade at Jaisalmer. The Arjun was to undergo comparative trials against the Indian Army's Russian-built T-90 tanks in June 2009.[72]

Retired Lt. Col. Anil Bhat, a strategic analyst, pointed out that “the Arjun tank is cumbersome for strategic movement, i.e. to be taken from one sector to another. It is too wide and too heavy to be moved in the railway carriages that we have in India. The comparative trials are just an eyewash as Arjun is incomparable to T-90" owing to the different weight class of both tanks.[72] This comment by Lt. Col. Anil Bhat was made without realising that Arjun-specific rail wagons have already been inducted.[73]

A comparative trial was conducted by the Indian Army in March 2010, in which the Arjun was pitted against the Indian T-90. The trial pitted one squadron of Arjuns against an equal number of T-90s. Each squadron was given three tactical tasks; each involved driving across 50 kilometres of desert terrain and then shooting at a set of targets. Each tank had to fire at least ten rounds, stationary and on the move, with each hit being carefully logged. In total, each tank drove 150 km and fired between 30-50 rounds. The trials also checked the tanks’ ability to drive through water channels 5–6 feet deep.[74]

Regarding the trial, a Ministry of Defence press release reported:

After many years of trial and tribulation it has now proved its worth by its superb performance under various circumstances, such as driving cross-country over rugged sand dunes, detecting, observing and quickly engaging targets, accurately hitting targets – both stationary and moving, with pin pointed accuracy. Its superior fire-power is based on accurate and quick target acquisition capability during day and night in all types of weather and shortest possible reaction time during combat engagements.[74][75]


  • A 155 mm self-propelled howitzer variant of the Arjun (Bhim SPH) has been prototyped by fitting the South African Denel T6 turret, which comes with the G5 howitzer to the Arjun chassis. This project has been delayed as Denel has become embroiled in a corruption scandal in India, and hence the Indian Ministry of Defence has suspended the Bhim.
  • A bridge layer tank (BLT) based on the Arjun chassis has also been displayed by the DRDO.[76] Developed in cooperation with Indian industry, this bridge layer is deemed superior to the T-72 based units, as it can handle a larger load and uses a "scissors type" bridgelaying method, which does not raise the bridge high up into the air, and hence make it visible from afar. India’s main battle tank, Arjun, has taken the “avatar” of a bridge laying tank (BLT). The R&DE(E) did this by replacing the tank’s gun and turret with the bridge launcher. The bridge is cantilevered over chasms or across rivers to cover a distance of 26 m with a width of 4 m. The BLT-Arjun carries two halves of a bridge. At a wet or dry gap, the launcher slides the two parts and docks them to each other in such a way that the far end of the second half touches the other bank. The BLT then crosses the bridge, turns around, retrieves the bridge after undocking its two halves, folds it and is ready to move with the armoured column.[77]
  • Armoured engineering vehicles based on the Arjun are also assumed to be in development, as the Arjun induction will require units of a similar power-to-weight ratio or powerful enough to tow it, or recover it on the battlefield.
  • Tank EX: A new tank obtained by coupling a T-72 chassis and an Arjun turret. Only prototypes have been built so far.
  • An MBT Arjun Simulator comprising a driving simulator and turret simulator are being developed for troop level training.[42]

Arjun Mk-II

DRDO chief V.K. Saraswat, also the scientific adviser to the defence minister, told HT at Aero India-2011: "The new variant will have several modifications including superior missile firing capabilities."[78] On June-2011 the Mk-II begun to undergo trials at Pokhran ranges in Rajasthan. The Mk-II is also expected to go through its winter trials later the same year.[79]

According to CVRDE the Director P. Sivakumar, the Arjun Mark II will have a total of 93 upgrades, including 13 major improvements. The major upgrades would be missile-firing capability against long-range targets, panoramic sight with night vision to engage targets effectively at night, containerisation of the ammunition, enhanced main weapon penetration; additional ammunition types, explosive reactive armour, an advanced air-defence gun to engage helicopters; a mine plough, an advanced land navigation system and a warning system which can fire smoke grenades to confuse laser guidance.[80] Other upgrades are an enhanced Auxiliary power unit providing 8.5 KW (from 4.5 KW) and an improved gun barrel,[81] changes in the commander's panoramic sight with eye safe LRF, night vision capability including for driver, digital control harness, new final drive, track and sprocket.[82]

Arjun tank hull and turret has been modified to achieve the target weight of about 55 tons from 59-64 tons. Elbit is helping to enhance its firepower and battlefield survivability and IMI is helping to augment Arjun Mk II’s mobility, redesign its turret and hull and improve its production-line processes.[83]

The development trials of the Mark II tanks started on June 22, 2012, at Rajasthan's Pokhran field firing range which will continue for the next two months and will mainly focus on 19 parametres, according to DRDO spokesperson Ravi Gupta. DRDO will start production of 124 Arjun Mark II tanks for the Indian Army after the success of these trials. The tank commander's thermal imaging (TI) night sight, the tank's operation in "hunter-killer" mode, the tank's missile firing capability from its main gun, and a laser missile warning and counter measure system are among the crucial upgrades that will be tested.[84]

The Mark-II version completed most user trials except missile testing, which is slated to take place in summer (April–May) of 2013. Since May 2012, user trials had been done in Avadi and Pokhran. So far, the response to the new features of Arjun Mark II was favourable. According to Director, CVRDE P. Sivakumar the Arjun Mk II could fire missiles accurately up to a range of 2 km. Owing to the experience while designing and building the first version work on Arjun Mk-II was completed in 2 years.[85]


The Arjun MKII variant is to be followed by the Futuristic Main Battle Tank (FMBT), which started development in 2010. The Indian Army plans to induct the FMBT from 2020 onwards.[86] The FMBT will be a lighter tank of 50 tons.[87] FMBT would be focusing on weight reduction to bring it to below 50 tons.[88]


  •  India
    • Indian Army 124 tanks in service, total 248 (124 Mk-II more) tanks ordered. A total of 300-400 Arjun Mk2 tanks may be ordered .[89]

See also

Tank portal

Related development

Related lists


External links

  • Arjun MBT at
  • Arjun MBT Project: Reports of the Standing Committee on Defence
  • Fourteen Arjun main battle tanks delivered to the Army, "Accuracy of weapon system proved beyond doubt"
  • Arjun induction: move to support indigenisation process, in the Hindu
  • 'Arjun' to roll out on 7 August, in the Hindu
  • 'Bhishma' handed over to Army, about India's T-90S tanks, in the Hindu
  • History of Arjun Tank Development, in Frontier India Defence and Strategic News Service
  • Arjun Photos
  • Arjun MBT Vs T-90S specifications
  • Arjun MBT weight implications
  • The advent of Arjun
  • Arjun order
  • (The writer's blog has some photos to go with the article)

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