Saturday, April 26, 2008

MBT Arjun Trouble: Special team to Germany

A special team comprising personnel from the Army EME, Armoured Corps and DRDO has left for Augsburg and Hanover Germany to find just how to fix the transmission problems that put paid to MBT Arjun's low temperature accelerated usage cum reliability trials (AUCRT) in Pokhran recently. I've spoken to my sources at Avadi, and here's the update on what happened.

For starters, nobody at Avadi believes there has been any sabotage to the tanks, and I think that pretty much puts a lid on what Minister of State for Defence Production and Supply Rao Inderjit Singh said on Thursday. Arjun tank officials were completely taken aback by the Minister's statement, though they told me it was probably him reconciling himself with the unforeseen problems Arjun is facing now -- after a visit to the CVRDE and HVF last year, which included a drive in the tank (much like mine), Rao Inderjit Singh is a staunch proponent of the jinxed programme. Second, Army chief General Deepak Kapoor was at Avadi yesterday, where he has given instructions to the team take quick action and bring the remainder of the trials up to speed without further delay.

Ok, now back to what the problem really is. Of the 5,000-km of AUCRT of two production-series tanks by the 43rd Armoured Regiment, 3,000-km were conducted in below-40° conditions. Of these 3,000 , 2,000-km were conducted in Pokhran and 1,000-km at the Mahajan Field Firing Range (MFFR). The problems that have brought the AUCRT to a grinding halt had nothing to do with the Arjun's MTU engine, as has been reported expansively, but its transmission system (a.k.a. gearbox), also built by a German firm Renk AG. (Engine + Gearbox = Powerpack). One particular bearing in the gearbox failed. The German maker of the gearbox was immediately summoned, and it sent a team of engineers to Pokhran, where they proceeded to indentify the bearing failure. The possibility of low-quality sub-standard bearings in the transmission system by Renk is currently under investigation. One of the transmission systems was ad-hoc rectified by a team of Army EME engineers and HVF personnel on-site, while the other powerpack was sent back to Avadi for investigation.

The Renk gearbox that MBT Arjun uses is a complicated piece of machinery, also dated in its design -- this has added a new element of intrigue to the problems that surfaced at Pokhran. Like someone at Avadi described it: "It's like going back to your computer dealer in this day and age and saying, could you please give me a replacement Pentium-II." Either way, the bearing issue is being ironed out. It's just bizarre how much bad luck the tank has when it gets into trials. As the same source said: "Everyone is baffled. If a tank can run smoothly for thousands of kilometers, why do problems only crop up during trials?"

The warranty on the Arjun powerpack is 5,000-km, though some of the tanks have done between 7,000 and 9,000-km already. The above 40° conditions trials will take place over 2,000-km somewhere in June/July, though a decision on whether the sub-40° trials will be re-conducted will be taken after a trial cum performance report is submitted to the Army by the end of this month or early May.

As opposed to the reports that have been pouring in ever since the Parliamentary Standing Committee report came out some days ago, the recent trials saw no glitches, snags or problems with the Arjun's 120mm weapon system, the engine, hydro-pneumatic suspension or laser range finder. The devil was in the transmission system.

13 comments :

Anonymous said...

excellent update thanks.

ssingh said...

So a transmission failure becomes as engine problem, gun problem and what not!. Why such misinformation even happens i don't get it.

tank man said...

leave it to the indian media to distort a simple transmission problem into something that makes it seem as though the arjun is a monumental disaster. the express report today quiting dolly shekhawat that arjun is no longer acceptable is foolish. the arjun is ready for action. how much russian money will these Mech Forces dogs eat before they are satiated?

Anonymous said...

the recent trials saw no glitches, snags or problems with the Arjun's 120mm weapon system, the engine, hydro-pneumatic suspension or laser range finder

Oh don't worry, these problems will be coming in the next "trails".

Are DODO still think that ARMY buys 1000s of Arjun?

We are still awaiting the GSQR you promised of FMBT 2020.

Anonymous said...

Shiv,
You are contradicting yourself, or don't trust your sources well. You start by rubbishing the 'sabotage' theory but towards the end you have a quote:
"Everyone is baffled. If a tank can run smoothly for thousands of kilometers, why do problems only crop up during trials?"
So, rewrite the article, and say that the minister's theory has takers in Avadi!!

Shiv Aroor said...

anon: actually, they said they were baffled at the never-ending bad luck -- that failures indeed take place particularly during trials. they laugh at the possibility of sabotage. so there's no contradiction!

Ankur said...

No sabotage: unless you look at the Army's report about the tank's "failures" - once it was pushed past operating procedures. And its staunch refusal to test out the Arjun against the T-72 or T-90 in head-to-head trials.

Why the hell not? Esp given that they agreed to do so a couple of years back.

Can we roast the appropriate Army man for this please?

Anonymous said...

bad luck it seems...Shiv tell your source Major General Har Milap Singh that this tank will never be made to take off by the army, no matter what, becuase the DRDO, of which Har Milap is a part of, has made nothing but a piece of shit and you Shiv Aroor, those fraud DRDO bastards invite you and make you drive the Arjun, so you sing thier laurels...bloody traitor....you're the one who wrote against them in Express...now with thier hospitality you've gone blind...all this is a hog wash..this tank is finished....one more holiday for the officials in Germany...ahem

Anonymous said...

Aroor, writing stories for Express here, in the name of yoir blog....those copycats have no shame and will agiain steal stuff from here, as you too are working on the sly for Express.....guys Aroor is on the pay roll of Express as well along with HT.......

Anonymous said...

Has DRDO started any work for arjun mk2, because i see no hope for this arjun in the army. i think they should add some sloping amour next time.

gagan said...

PTI Report: The Army on Thursday night said there were no major snags in the country’s indigenous Main Battle Tank Arjun and it plans to go ahead with their induction.

“The very fact that we have placed orders for 124 Arjun tanks means that army wants to induct them,” a senior army officer said as Army Chief general Deepak Kapoor completed his fresh inspection of the tanks at the Avadi factory near Chennai.

The officer said if some observations had been made about the tanks performance these need to be rectified. However, he said, in fresh inspection no major snags had been found and some minor faults were being attended to.

Anonymous said...

Would not be the Germans in ideal position to comment whether the failure could be result of sabotage (related to transmission failure )as compared to Avadi folks ? If yes, then how can one state that "nobody at Avadi believes there has been any sabotage " theory.

If there is even an ounce of possibilty of sabotage...let the germans speak before putting a lid on sabotage theory. This will do good to both Pro and Anti groups of this project

M Jayapal (cvrde) said...

Guys,in my opinion, what i would say is to have a consistent gunner and driver, consistent means "the best".
Because as far the problems in the trails are concerned , we face problem only when we change the drivers and gunners, so in my point of view what i would like to say is to have a the same driver and gunner for the whole trail.