Sunday, July 27, 2008

EXCLUSIVE: DRDO's statement calling for government intervention to save MBT Arjun

With the MBT Arjun programme in its death throes as it were, a very rattled DRDO is trying to put up a brave face, not least because the current DRDO chief Manthiram Natarajan is considered the father and patron saint of the programme. DRDO has prepared a brief statement on the programme that it plans to make available shortly to anyone at the Ministry or the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence who cares to listen. LiveFist has procured a copy of DRDO's statement. I will be doing a half-hour special report on Arjun this week on Headlines Today (will post the accurate timing here when I'm back in Delhi :)) Oh, here's DRDO's statement in full:

The project on development of MBT Arjun was initially sanctioned in May 1974 at a cost of Rs.15.50 crore with a PDC (probable date of completion) of 10 years. Time and cost have undergone revision on 3 occasions (in 1980, 1987 and 2000). The reasons for revision in cost and time are; major changes in qualitative requirements, developmental delays for new systems/technologies, delay in import of sub-system due to import embargoes, increase in number of prototypes, difficulties in organising for field evaluation etc. The final cost at the time of closure of the project in Mar 1995 was Rs.305.60 Crores. The development of tanks of similar capabilities in a foreign country will cost 10 times the development cost what we have incurred in India.

Some of the state-of-the-art technologies incorporated in the ‘Arjun’ are modern integrated fire control system with Fire Control Computer and MRS, Hydro-pneumatic suspension, Kanchan Armour, highly lethal and accurate FSAPDS (fin-stabilised armour piercing discarding sabot) ammunition and NBC protection.

The major imported systems in the tank are the powerpack and gun control system from Germany and Delft-SAGEM gunner’s main sight from OIP Belgium. The percentage of import content is 60% in the first lot of 124 tanks to be productionised, which will be reduced to under 45% with the manufacture of first 200 tanks and under 30% with the manufacture of about 500 tanks.

‘Arjun’ is a proven tank as far as DRDO is concerned. The tank has been cleared after taking approval of the Army. The DRDO and Army have drawn a Joint Action Plan and as per which the improvements have been incorporated in the production tanks.

The major deficiencies noted by the users during the trials were ammunition and low life of Hydro pneumatic suspension, road wheels, dust extractor & radiator fan blades. These have been systematically attended to and the performance of the tank during the Summer Trials confirmed to the laid down GSQR.

T-90S and MBT Arjun tanks are of different class. Both the tanks have their own special features. In MBT Arjun, we have more power to weight ratio, hydro-pneumatic suspension for better ride comfort and a stable platform to fire on the move, better quality class of Gun Control System and Fire Control System etc. Missile firing capability of Arjun was demonstrated. T-90S tank has missile firing capability and lower silhouette. Tanks of both the class are required by the Indian Army.

The present cost of MBT Arjun is Rs.16.80 crore and the cost of T-90 is around Rs.12.00 crore. The cost of Arjun compares favourably with contemporary Western MBTs of its class, costing in the range of Rs 17 to 24 crore.

Army has cleared MBT Arjun for production and has placed an indent on 30 March 2000 for manufacture of 124 Arjun tanks, by 2009 for 2 Regiments. Bulk production of MBT Arjun has commenced. First batch of five Arjun production tanks manufactured at Heavy Vehicle Factory (HVF), Avadi were handed over by RM to COAS at HVF on 07 Aug 2004. Till date a total of 64 tanks have already been developed at the Defence PSU and 14 have been delivered for evaluation. The remaining 60 would be delivered by 2009 after due JRI. Now, it is time to think of next set of orders from Army on MBT-Arjun.

MBT Arjun is strategically a very competent armoured vehicle. It has an excellent weight to power ratio, good mobility and very accurate firepower, which confirm to the QRs as laid down by the Army. It compares excellently with all the heavy class of tanks available across the world. It can be effectively deployed in most of the border areas of our country.

Teething problems during the process of productionisation are inevitable. The process of TOT for the MBT will mature and stabilize only after 200 to 300 tanks have been actually produced by the production agency. Hence, we need to have patronage from the government and Army in terms of more orders for our indigenous MBT-Arjun. If the army does not place further orders for Arjun we cannot even amortize the infrastructural investments made by the government for its productionisation, thereby resulting in wasteful expenditure. The Army should place orders for additional 300 tanks before we can break even.

DRDO is working on the development of the futuristic Mark II MBT with suitable technological upgrades, which can be introduced later after completion of production of atleast 500 tanks of the present version. DRDO has tacit knowledge in this area of Combat Vehicle Engineering and possesses full competence in developing futuristic combat vehicles. Any battle tank has a service life of 30 years and goes through technology up gradation progressively. Since MBT-Arjun is an indigenous tank it is all the more easier to bring upgrades and in our opinion the MBT-Arjun will be a viable platform for the futuristic use as well.

Five phases of accelerated user cum reliability trials (AVCRT) of MBT Arjun have been completed. Two tanks have covered more than 5000 km and fired 500 EFC each both in winter, and summer of 2008 at Pokhran and MFFR ranges Rajasthan. Initial teething troubles in transmission and firing have been overcome in the last two phases successfully and the performance and reliability of the tanks are very satisfactory.

The comparative trials of MBT-Arjun and T-90 can be pursued but should not be linked with placement of further orders for MBT. Govt should intervene at this stage and ensure that our indigenous efforts in this direction are appropriately rewarded. MBT Arjun today remains a contemporary battle tank and by far superior to T-54, T-55, and T-72 tanks that the Army has been using over the years.

Read Ajai Shukla's post on the T-90 scandal here.

24 comments :

Anonymous said...

wow... so now what???

Anonymous said...

The percentage of import content is 60% in the first lot of 124 tanks to be productionised, which will be reduced to under 45% with the manufacture of first 200 tanks and under 30% with the manufacture of about 500 tanks.


Will they talk about what components to be indigenous? Like if 300 more order to be placed will DRDO come up with enigine, transmission, thermals??? or is it empty rhetoric.

Arjun’ is a proven tank as far as DRDO is concerned.

Wow, new definition needs to be coined here... :twisted: Proven by DRDO, certified as world class by DRDO.


The present cost of MBT Arjun is Rs.16.80 crore. The cost of Arjun compares favourably with contemporary Western MBTs of its class, costing in the range of Rs 17 to 24 crore.


Why not Rs16.99 crore for Arjun and ...what again? contemporary western tank you say cost Rs17 to 24crore. This is like Indian Made foreign Liquor -IMFL DRDO version. You know IMFL is nothing but desi tharraa packed in bottle instead of Pouches.

Till date a total of 64 tanks have already been developed The remaining 60 would be delivered by 2009 after due JRI.
64 TOOK 8 YEARS AND THE NEXT 60 IN A YEAR????

our indigenous efforts in this direction are appropriately rewarde

Poor, pathetic pleading here, get swadeshi jagran manch for the cause now.

Anonymous said...

There goes one more plant by the DRDO, and who better than Shiv?

He was used by the foreigners and the disgruntled DRDO insiders when he did that series in Express, and now since there isn't much to do on TV, he's just towing what the DRDO wants plugged through him

Have some ethics dude.....and by the way even that series was an effort only by Amitav Ranjan, and no contribution by Shiv.

By the way, even those in uniform attached with Arjun think they've wasted their time...only Tatas have successfully made car engines, that can be indigenous, otherwise this country and its scientists are worth nothing, after giving them luxuries they come out with nothing.

Not that we dont want indigenous stuff, and money well spent, but who will replace these 'kaamchors'

Anonymous said...

After having driven the tank, now Shiv wants to desperately save the project.

He also manages to get a copy of the statement from Natarajan, who considers Shiv the best guy to plug a story through. Good, good,

Shiv as it is you're doing nothing these days, except philandering with TV Today girls, good atleast you have something to do next week.

As it is you're no longer a defence journalist...have no connection with defence except this blog of yours, which is read only by other defence journalists, who steal your stories and put them on page 1 with a byline...what a breed?

Buck up dude and get some original stuff and do some good defence thing, if your interested still in the subject that is, otherwise you can move to political and crime reporting

Shiv Aroor said...

i just love how i get the best quality career and singles advice from the comments section of this blog!

sniperz11 said...

Shiv, can u get official versions of their side of the story from teh Army guys... I'd love to hear what the DGMO and DGMF have to say about tehir blatant refusals.

Anonymous said...

Take the reply from me Sniperz11....they say that the tank is damn good, and we need indigenous technology, but its taking a very long time...we want to place more orders but technology would be obsolete by the time the tank hits the sands.

I've personally spoken to both and they have given me 2 different versions...official and non-official

Anonymous said...

bloody rascals in the army have no respect for long term defence planning. just wait till the whole t-series of tanks goes up in smoke then they wll learn their lesson. killing an indigenous programme that has been nurtured by tax-payer money should be outlawed and included in the indian penal code as a grievous offence. then line up all these duffers in dgmf etc and shoot them.

Broadsword said...

Great scoop, Shiv.

I think, though, that the DRDO is making its point in an unduly restrained manner. But at least the scientists and technologists are getting off the ground and giving out their version of what is happening. If they don't, the case will be lost by default.

And India will lose a bank of painfully built up expertise on MBT design.

What is needed here is some tough love. The army needs to be told: indigenise fast... or do with what you already have. The navy has already shown the way (with the same DRDO!) There is no reason why the army cannot follow.

Ajai Shukla

Anonymous said...

fantastic man! Anonymous @ 12:13 pm

Anonymous said...

I Agree with Ajai. Out of the allocated budget for the Army, Air Force and Navy, only 50-60% should be spent outside(out of which, our offset policy brings some money back as investment ;) ). Rest should be put in joint developement initiatives with DRDO, Universities and private defense research establishments.

Delays in projects should lead to severe job cuts and penalties on DRDO and other private firms. They should hone their integration skills with off the shelf components than re-inventing everything.

Liberally utilize the NRI talents, foreign consultants, whatever you need. It is better to be good at the expense of pride, than being pathetic and still not having pride..

Anonymous said...

To anon @ 12:17 -

By the way, even those in uniform attached with Arjun think they've wasted their time...
Bullshit. Please post a credible link before spewing forth garbage.

only Tatas have successfully made car engines, that can be indigenous, otherwise this country and its scientists are worth nothing,
My spidey sense is tingling that you are a paki maderchode. Nevertheless, if you've ever stepped foot out of the country you will realize that most 'phoran' corporations run on desi brain power.

PROTIP: Stop eating out of your own ass; it is unhealthy for you.

Anonymous said...

Colnel Ajai Shukla said this about Arjun:

If the tank does not perform well in trials, it should be shelved and categorised a technology demonstrator, rather than shoved down the throats of the army.


Now wonder what changed the tune??

Prashanth said...

Nobody else has asked this question, so I will.
Can't DRDO try and sell the tank to some other countries to get "their" money back? Why cry on the Indian army alone?

Anonymous said...

Prashanth, you should already know by now that the thing DRDO is WORST at is PR and marketing. Besides, other than IA, is there any other army in the world that will buy phorun products that not even its own country will buy?

mukeshK said...

Shiv, good for you. But don't call the DRDO statement an ``exclusive''--it has already been reported by two-three newspapers!

Anonymous said...

mukeshji you always puncture Shiv...ha ha ha ha ha

Prashanth said...

Get a good reco from IA, price it cheap and flog it to African countries! If ISRO is able to market itself, there's no good reason why the DRDO can't.

Broadsword said...

Anonymous, you really have a problem with the English language, don't you?

"If the tank doesn't perform well in trials"... which part of that don't you understand? I am asking for comparative trials with the Arjun, the T-72 and the T-90. The army is shying away from comparative trials.

Sometimes, not wanting to play is an admission of defeat. The Directorate General of Mechanised Forces KNOWS that in an unbiased technical comparative trial between those three tanks, the Arjun will come out tops. And that would be very very embarrassing and difficult to explain.

So it's best to just scuttle the trials altogether.

Anonymous said...

Prashanth, again: because the rockets designed by ISRO are actually used in India. Antrix would not have been able to bag any orders if the indian govt didn't use it to launch its own satellites. Besides, ISRO has a much better public image than DRDO which is routinely trashed (undeservedly) by the media.
Finally, if the IA doesn't budge on the fact that at 16m the arjun is much better tank than the 12m tin scrap 90 (t90), then how are they to invoke confidence in the buyer? they might as well go for the cheaper tank

but you are completely missing the point in all of this. it is the army's attitude that is of concern here. Even if the Arjun is equivalent to T-90 or slightly worse (not a chance in hell):

1. Does the arjun meet the threat perception of the region? YES. Most tank regiments are deployed on the western front and can most assuredly take on the T80 or al-khali-dabba

2. Does the arjun meet the gsqr as laid out by the army? YES. This inspite of the army basing its gsqr on janes and cut and paste from various glossy brochures.

3. Can the arjun evolve as a platform as our experience with tank design and manufacture grows over time? YES. FCS, engine are already being designed for mk2

4. Does design and manufacture of the tank in the country benefit the country over simply tightening the bolts on the tin Scrap-90? YES. Because it has a) export potential b) less susceptibility to phorun arm twisting c) inputs on requirements by the army that can be easily incorporated since these will have top priority

Anonymous said...

Look guys!! ARJUN is our (indian) baby!! Good or bad (i doubt that) its ours!! We cannot abandon our project like that!! Ppl we have to understand that we have to walk before we can jog and only then sprint!! Wot army expects is to make ARJUN (our indian baby) to sprint the moment is born ( a very long and painful delivery, mind you)!!

There is huge potential for it to be a sprinter, but give it time and effort!!! Get OUR INDIAN BABY a chance!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

@Broadsword
I am asking for comparative trials with the Arjun, the T-72 and the T-90.


Fair enough, but do the Army needs comparative trial orevaluate whether Arjun is worth as MBT in totality??

What do you want??

The Directorate General of Mechanised Forces KNOWS that in an unbiased technical comparative trial between those three tanks, the Arjun will come out tops.




This is a serious charge coming from you questioning the Army's Integrity and honesty.

Hope you know something which I don't.

some of the defects that you listed of the tanks are still there but your opinion changed.
#
The tank suffers from a hybrid design where several major components have been bought off-the-shelf and slapped together into a tank.

#
The tank suffers from a high profile, high visibility, high vulnerability to helicopter, ATGM and tank attack from ranges beyond which it can pick up those enemies.

#
The issue of translating a prototype into a production line remains beset with Quality Control problems.

#
Strategic mobility remains a major problem for the Arjun.

Anonymous said...

Army will realize the importance of Indegenisation at ANY cost during the war and it would be too late by then. At least learn something from China. Even the Israelis who are obliged to buy US equipment under USAID terms have indegenized so much stuff. True that we take longer to learn but learning is a NON-LINEAR process: the more you learn, the faster you improve. Subsequent models take lesser time. God save my country from short-sighted "defenders".

Anonymous said...

Why not split up DRDO into multiple units and make them public ltd companies, by issues their shares to common public and to DRDO employees. These independent DRDO labs should compete among one another for defense orders. This kind of competition will make them more efficient. Also the Top Mgt of DRDO should be replaced with a professional management and the middle management with industry experts. This would get rid of complacency on part of DRDO. The unions should be abolished to bring in productivity.