Monday, April 30, 2007

Arjun To Star At Exercise Ashwamedh!

A piece by Sandeep Dikshit in The Hindu today:

The Army is fielding the indigenous Arjun tanks for the first time in simulated war games in the deserts of Rajasthan beginning on Sunday. A ``sub-unit'' of about a dozen Arjun tanks has been fielded along with Russian-origin tanks for the exercise codenamed `Ashwamedha' to test new equipment and concepts in searing heat, said anonymous Army sources.

The Army has kept the news under wraps due to the controversy surrounding the tanks' development and its designer, Defence Research & Development Organisation's (DRDO), and sensitivity to the criticism about their inability to function optimally in high temperatures.

This would be the first recent major non-missile project by the DRDO to undertake the heat tests in a major war exercise in which the ``reactions would not be doctored or controlled,'' according to Brigadier Amarjeet, commanding a tank brigade in the exercise.

The war games in the deserts will begin on Sunday and last till May 3 but preparations for this period of ``intense activity'' have been on for two months. This is the first time the exercises are being held in the operations area of the newly created South Western Command.

The Arjun tank became a major issue of discord between the Army and the DRDO after the former periodically complained about the shortcomings in various components, especially the fire control system in temperatures above 40 degrees centigrade.

Though development of the tank began in 1974, the Army was recently forced to make massive purchases of Russian tanks after it failed to perform to Army's expectations even after 30 years.

However, in mid-2004, the Army was told to set aside its reservations about its weight, profile and malfunctioning systems and place an order for 124 tanks. The same year, five tanks rolled out of the production lines and the remaining might take about five years to manufacture. These tanks would equip two regiments.

In defence, the DRDO points out that the Army wants a tank comparable to Russian, American and German standards but India entered the R&D phase several decades later. In case the tanks pass the test of desert heat and terrain, the DRDO and the Heavy Vehicles Factory would begin planning for other variants such as bridge layers and recovery vehicles.

Besides the Arjun, the assets that will be used for the first time in a major war game are unmanned aerial vehicles, BMP-II (armour plated vehicles for carrying soldiers) and T-90 tanks. In temperatures that would hover around 45 degrees centigrade, Special Forces would try out various methods to move behind enemy lines for surveillance and destruction of logistical dumps.

The exercise would involve fighter planes and helicopters besides tanks, mechanised infantry, medium and field artillery, air defence and elements of signals and engineering units. However, there would be no downsizing of infantry troops despite the involvement of so much of hardware. ``On the ground when closing in on the enemy, the requirement of troops is the same,'' said Major-General Raj Sujlana.


Abhiman said...

Mr. Aroor, like most other news articles, this report focusses only on the problems faced by Arjun tank, and does not mention the same variety of problems which were present in the T-90S tank.

This is the only Indian report, that has "courageously" highlighted the problems of imported T-90S tanks :

In my view, in light of the above report, the Arjun tanks should outperform the T-90s tanks in the Ashwamedha excercises, and will match the Army's expectations.

Thank you.

Teews said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Teews said...

I could not help laughing after reading this article and I knew that if ever there was a place that this needed to be posted it had to be here and in Ajai Shukla's blog.

Indian Army and Air Force lack research temper

The article pretty much talks about the issues what Shiv and Ajai won't in their blogs. So guys, I am absolutely looking forward to your comments.

Shiv Aroor said...

hi teews, yes i laughed when i read this article too. yet, chacko offers no new insights. of course the army and air force are to blame (and to a negligibly low extent, the navy too). but it's just regressive and a little juvenile to think of blaming one side and ignoring the other. chacko's miffed from his perception that our series didn't talk about armed forces nonsense (Which it did, though the series was pointedly about DRDO not the forces). also, i imagine there's a middleground. this can't be a four-way tu tu main main. that's just silly. every single agency needs reform. and drdo, drastically so. our armed forces are ludicrously unwieldy in every sense.

Teews said...

Shiv, I don't have problem with you bringing up issues regarding DRDO. You have done so rightly where it is apt. My problem is when you don't bring the other issues like you said "but it's just regressive and a little juvenile to think of blaming one side and ignoring the other". This should be true to you also. I understand in these cases lets say its probably 90% fault of DRDO and 10% of the IA and IAF. But isn't your responsibility as an unbiased journalist to bring forth facts of ALL the issues? When you leave some of it out, people have no other choice but to say that you are writing it with an agenda. Had you done that originally, you would have had my vote of confidence. Like the saying goes in Hindi " Tali ek hath se nahi bajti".

Shiv Aroor said...

sure, point taken. but i think you should have another look at the series. there are numerous pointers to the armed forces themselves reneging on claims and forcing DRDO into delays. particularly the last two parts. have a look.

Teews said...

You misunderstood me. I saw all your articles and appreciate you accepting our feedback.

But when you write an article, you are either completely bashing DRDO in one article or pointing out to articles that say otherwise. My point is you take the crux of the issue. So as an example the heading could be like "Indeginous efforts falling behind". You give examples of what is falling behind by stating the projects and who is leading this. In this case DRDO and IA/IAF/IN. But you have to ask the main question WHY. And there is where you start putting facts in. Take every organisation into account from MoD, GoI, DRDO, IA,IAF,IN, etc. and against them put down where each of them went wrong. And then if possible give a solution to each of the issue.

For example, we spoke about DRDO not being able to complete projects. In that article where were the questions about what GoI or MoD has done to retain the pool of people working in these projects, what have they done to ensure IA and IAF have done to commit their resources, project management, etc.? What have they done to come up with a plan to tackle changing GSQR? What kind of accountability will DRDO own up to? What efforts are in place in DRDO to make them not only good engineers but better management skill that is so important for successful and timely completion of projects so vital to our defence organizations? What about accountability for GoI and MoD who sit on RFQs and delay important systems on one excuse or the other, which if it had happened in time would have given breathing space to not only IA/IAF/IN but also to DRDO and between them they could have planned this better.

Where are these questions? I didn't see them under one article and hence to me it does not give me a balanced look. Anyone who reads that article comes out saying DRDO is mucking everthing up, which could be true but not necessarily the entire truth.

Abhiman said...

Fourteen Arjun main battle tanks delivered to the Army

Excerpts :

Earlier, Mr. Sundaresh said Arjun underwent exhaustive field trials before the Army placed the orders. Thermal imaging for nigh-time warfare, high acceleration, mobility and hydro gas suspension were some of the significant features of the totally indigenous Arjun, comparable to all tanks of its class in the world.

Mr. Jayakumar said Arjun was the most tested battle tank in the world, as it had clocked 70,000 km, in addition to about 10,000 trial firings. Major General H.M. Singh, Additional Director in charge of trial and evaluation, said last year's user field trial report had certified that the accuracy and consistency of the weapon system was proved beyond doubt.

R. Shankar, Director of Combat Vehicles, DRDO headquarters at New Delhi, said a total of 27 tanks — 15 pre-production and 12 prototype — were produced with a budget outlay of a "paltry" Rs. 300 crore. Arjun was the cheapest tank in its class, he said, adding the CVRDE was ready to supply the system to friendly nations if the Government takes a policy decision.

Thank you.

Reference :

Abhiman said...

Arjun MBT Makes a Fighting Come Back Into the Indian Army

Similar to the Hindu report, but it contains other links also, besides having a more appropriate headline, than the bland and "neutral" headline of The Hindu.

Thank you.