Monday, July 21, 2008

MBT Arjun's death knell

The Army's Directorate General of Mechanized Forces (DGMF) has pretty much institutionalized the death of Main Battle Tank Arjun. In a widely publicised two-day "international seminar" on future main battle tanks and future infantry combat vehicles that begins tomorrow and organised the Confederation of Indian Industry, the future armoured vision of the Army will be carved out, and neatly exclude Project Arjun. By now, as has been reported quite widely, the Army has officially decided not to purchase any more Arjun tanks from the Heavy Vehicles Factory, Avadi, after the delivery of the 124 already indented for. This is not someone's opinion. It's now on paper. 124 Arjuns and no more. The blow to the programme will be a mere sidelight at the glitzy Hotel Oberoi do that ends the day after.

I spent two days at the Combat Vehicles Research & Development Establishment (CVRDE) and Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF) in Avadi last September, and call tell you that this news -- that 124 will be the final figure -- will have fallen terribly hard on both agencies. For them, the future of the programme was predicated, as CVRDE director S Sundaresh told me, on a minimum order of 500 tanks.

The Army's press release says, "[At the same time they] need to crystal-gaze into the future and absorb technologies to remain relevant in the time-span of 2020-2050. This Seminar will provide the required impetus in that direction."

It further adds, "The Seminar is being organized with the aim of providing an overview to the environment of the aspirations of the Mechanised Forces and to gauge the capability of the Industry to meet these aspirations. In addition, the Seminar would also provide an insight into the emerging cutting edge technologies available in the world today and assess the scope of adapting them in the Indian context."

The press release continues: The Seminar will see a cross section of experts in the field of designing and development of armoured fighting vehicles from across the Globe including US, UK, France, Germany, Israel and Ukraine, speaking on the subject. It is imperative to nurture the domestic R&D and promote the Public Private Partnership if we are to create a powerful domestic Industrial Base for the future. In today’s global context, no one Nation can independently develop weapon platforms, and therefore, embarking on the consortia/JV route is a viable option. Our DRDO, academician and the industry will have an opportunity to network and exchange their views especially on absorbing technologies and reducing time-lines from conception to productionisation of these complex Fighting Vehicles.

Apart from the usual retinue of speakers (Army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor and DGMF Lt Gen Dalip Bharadwaj), the seminar will give the dias to notorious Arjun-baiter and former DGMF Lt Gen KDS "Dolly" Shekhawat and Brig General Yaraon Livnat of Israel's Merkava MBT programme.

Photo ©Copyright The Hindu


invalid said...

I don't understand why CII is blamed in the first sentence.

Anonymous said...

buggers will get together and discuss what to buy from which country for the future mbt. might as well just ask cvrde to shut shop and become an assembly facility. no point wasting time and money any more.

Anonymous said...

what about the billions of tax payers money spent on this program? why isn't the army answerable to the public?

Another JV means all important sensitive technologies will be developed by Russia. Like Brahmos or T90, they will refuse tech transfer on key areas.

Why arent we learning? Is there some Russian arm-twisting behind the scenes since we are committed on Gorshov, FGFA, Brahmos-II, T90s and MKIs?

Ali Baba said...

I think that the army is focussing on China more than Pakistan just aout now. The arjun is truely a very capable tank, much advanced than the T series in terms of crew safety and comfort, Accuracy of the main gun, inclusion of new gen techs
However it has this one seroius demerit that precludes its deployment in a china specific theatre. Its sheer size and weight mean that it can't be transported by air for rapid deployment into laddakh.
The arjun is probably overkill for the pakistanis, we currently outgun and outnumber them quite comfortably (The new doctrine now calls for fighting a war on two fronts with the chinese and pakistanis simultaneously)

How ever the army is nowhere doodh ka dhula here. Far from it, we see the features on arjun (Hydropneumatic suspension for one) that the army was so critical about earlier, being quoted in the requirements for the new joint indo-russian tank development effort.

What ever the army may say, the news is out that the soldiers who actually tested the arjun preferred it over the russian tanks. Coupled with the army's refusal to conduct a comparative trial of the Arjun vs the T-90, seems to embolden the suspicion. There are other skeletons - the T-72 gun has only 48% accuracy, the T-90 might actually be inferior to the Ukranian T-80U's with pakistan in a few critical areas.

If the army did not like certain aspects of the Arjun they should have sat down with DRDO and the next gen tank should have been developed inhouse, there is no dearth of international collabaration from western nations also to this end. I think it just another case of institutionalized retrograde thought process with deeply entrenched prehistoric ideas in the army, which don't seem to have changed with the arrival of the new century.

Let in some fresh air please

Anonymous said...

what a shame. As an Indian who defended this program, its nothing less then disgrace.

when everything started to look good, this happened.

this means another 100 years for design, testing and few more induction and we will induct another T-100 or some crap.

If we want something, we need to go get it. Why ask someone else.

At some point we must decide which path we need to follow.


Anonymous said...

Looks like there needs to be some house cleaning. Swap the T-series force for a detachment of 20-30 nukes. Then pension off the officers or move them to other duties.

Anonymous said...

Sir, Why even have the 124 Arjuns in the army ? So that we can parade our ineptitude every year at the R-day ? Instead lets show some charity here. Lets' gift all the 124 Arjuns to Sri Lanka so that it can protect its soldiers fighting the LTTE in a real battle zone not some "Brazen Hu Ha". Let the chai-biskoot Army be happy with its RUSSIAN "FUCK MY BIG TITS" (FMBT).Lets now scrap Arjun, Akash,LCA, Kaveri, Nag and all other non-strategic research. Lets not spend any more of the tax payer money in this sham of so called research. Lets use the tax payers money to finance the endless supply of Russian Vodka and Natashas with a full compliment of Tin Scrap-90 carrying a full disclaimer to the gunner and the driver jawan that he will not come out alive of that shit hole he is about to enter. Lets ends this once and for all and I mean for all eternity. We Indians have never learnt and we will never learn from our past mistakes. Lets learn to live with that.

Anonymous said...

I haven't heard a single word from MOD on this ongoing travesty with Arjun. Our jawans need better than these chootiya generals deepak and dalip.

Anonymous said...

Army eyeing futuristic technologies??!!..
.first give our jawans good body armour,lighter equipment..and CAS

I think still they are using mag fed WW II LMGs,SMGs and T-72s+T-55s(of 70s and 80s).. give me a break will ya! The futuristic equipment they talk about will be used for some brag(war) games with Western Nations like the much flaunted Su-30MKI..

Its pathetic that they are showing their only card for bragging purposes. They may already have studied weakness of MKI aircraft..

Anonymous said...

In times of war, when any country is starved of Cash, where do these Army guys think the money will come from to import their favourites? When you are desperate, all countries sell their weapons for double the price coz they know there is no other recourse? Probably Army thinks we are too rich a country. BJP's India Shining campaign seems to have had a lot more impact on the Army's mind rather than common populace.