Ministry of Defence places order for 118 Arjun Mk-1A battle tanks with Heavy Vehicles Factory, Avadi

Published : September 24, 2021 19:59 IST

An image of the Arjun Mk-1A battle tank posted by DRDO on Twitter. Photo: PTI

In a major fillip to the Union government’s “Make in India” initiative in the Defence sector, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on September 23 placed an order for the procurement of 118 of the main battle tank (MBT) Arjun Mk-1A for deployment with the Indian Army. The procurement of the tanks will allow the Indian Army’s Armoured Corps to operationalise two regiments.

The state of the art MBT Arjun Mk-1A is a new variant of the Arjun tank Mk-1. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had handed over the MBT Arjun Mk-1A to the Chief of the Army Staff General M.M. Naravane in Chennai in February.

The order, which is worth Rs.7,523 crore, is also of significant importance to the Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF) in Avadi, located 22 kilometres from Chennai. One of the seven ordnance factories of the state-owned Ordinance Factory Board that comes under the umbrella of the Armoured Vehicles Headquarters (AVHQ), this order is the first bulk order in several years for the MBT Arjun Mk-1A. Incidentally, the Arjun Mk-1A has been designed and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO’s) Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE), which is also located at Avadi, along with other laboratories of the DRDO within a two year (2010-12) period. HVF had manufactured 124 tanks of the Arjun Mk-1 variant.

The actual development of the Arjun Mk-1A commenced in June 2010 and it was fielded for user trials in June 2012. Between 2012 and 2015, extensive trial evaluation was conducted in various phases covering over 7,000 km (both in DRDO and at the user trials).

Sources told Frontline that the schedule was for HVF to manufacture five tanks within the next 30 months after which there will be one formal user trial. Subsequently, bulk production will commence.

The Arjun Mk-1A has enhanced accurate and superior fire power, all terrain mobility and survivability. Infused with 72 new features and more indigenous content than the Arjun Mk-1 variant, the tank is equipped with precise target engagement capabilities besides its effortless mobility and can take on the enemy in both day and night conditions and in static and dynamic modes. Said a spokesperson from the Ministry of Defence: “This tank is particularly configured and designed for Indian conditions and hence it is suitable for deployment to protect the frontiers in an effective manner.”

According to G. Satheesh Reddy, Secretary, Department of Defence (R&D) and Chairman of DRDO, the order will make Indian Defence industries ecosystem flourish and aid in ramping it up for the manufacture of the next generation of tanks. Officials from the Defence Ministry said that the order has opened “a large avenue in Defence manufacturing for over 200 Indian vendors including MSMEs with employment opportunities to around 8,000 people”.

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