In an important move, the ‘Made in India’ Arjun Mark-2 tank project is set to see the light of the day.
Chairman of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Dr S Christopher in an interview to The Tribune said, “We have had a meeting with the Vice-Chief of the Indian Army where it was agreed on accepting Mark-2.
Modalities are being worked out”. Once done, the acceptance of necessity (AON) for 118 will be revived, he added.
The AON is decided by the Defence Acquisition Council headed by the Defence Minister. A total of 93 modifications have been done on the first version of Arjun — 124 were inducted in 2010-2011.
On being asked if the Army was okay with the weight of the tank, the DRDO boss said: “The weight (the tank is almost 68 tonnes) has been accepted; that is a major change”.
Most modern European tanks are of the same weight, and tank-transporters (specialised trucks) for Arjun are available.
The DRDO has promised to set up a system to maintain the Arjun Mark-2 within India. It will be an annual maintenance contract with the Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) as a possible agency, Dr Christopher said. On the trials, he said, “These have done 4,000 kms of run, the upgrades will be tested.”
On artillery guns, Dr Christopher said the Advanced Towed Artillery Gun Systems (ATAGS), of which the Army has agreed to accept 40 pieces to start with, will get a more powerful engine to enable rapid movement. The guns designed by DRDO have been made by two private companies under the transfer of technology.
The DRDO is keen to get a slice of the 1,580 towed guns the Army is looking to buy. “Both companies (Tata Power SED and Bharat Forge) are gearing up produce more. We need an order for 200-300 guns to tie up logistics,” he said.