After having successfully conducted the desert trials of indigenous Arjun Mark II Main Battle Tank (MBT), the state-run Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) has announced that the upgraded version will be tested along with its missile by January 2012. The Indian Army has ordered for 142 Arjun Mark II MBT and the final trials by the Indian Army will occur in June 2012.
According to the DRDO, it has incorporated 56 of the total 89 improvements recommended in Arjun Mark II after the last test in Pokhran in Rajasthan. DRDO officials confirmed that the next trials will include firing of the LAHAT missile with a 5 mile range. Once the integrated testing of the Arjun Mark II is wrapped up by June 2012, its production will start in Heavy Vehicles Factory, Avadhi.
The Arjun's 120mm rifled main turret gun can fire the anti-tank guided missile LAHAT. This missile can be used by all 105mm and 120mm guns including some low-recoil low-weight guns fitted to armored cars, added DRDO sources. The Israeli Laser Homing Attack (LAHAT) missile is a multi-mission missile fired from wide variety of land vehicles, helicopters and tanks. It has a length of just one meter and weight of less than 13 kilograms. The LAHAT missile performs precision homing on a laser-designated target, ensuring first shot, tank-kill at ranges over 6 kilometres.
The Arjun Mark II MBT is being developed by the DRDO lab Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment and is expected to be inducted in the Indian Army by 2014. The various changes and advancements in the Arjun Mark II include changes in the commander's panoramic sight to include a laser range finder (LRF), night vision, driver's uncooled thermal image, and digital control harness, new final drive for increased weight, new track and sprocket. The stronger drive train and improved track is being developed to allow for larger weapons and thicker armor plating.
The limited technical trials with some major and minor improvements on Main Battle Tank (MBT) Arjun have been carried out by the DRDO this August in the deserts of Rajasthan. While the Defence Acquisition Council has cleared the proposal for acquisition of 124 Arjun MBT Mark II, the estimated cost of each MBT Arjun Mark-II with ail major/minor improvements will be approximately $ 8.22 million.
The initial Arjun Mark I MBT had been heavy criticized for been using high percentage of imported components then the locally developed technologies. However, the Arjun Mark II will see high percentage of local technology, DRDO officials indicated. Arjun MK-2 will field locally developed new and improved 1500 hp engine, replacing its German engine which features in the Arjun Mk-1. The new Mark II variant will also have performance improvement in areas like automatic target locating, tracking and destruction.
Indian Army has already raised its first Arjun MBT regiment in 2009 and will have first 124 Arjun Mark I variant and has already confirmed orders for more 124 Arjun Mark II. The order of the Arjun MBT is expected to go up to 500 Arjun MBT till new Main Battle Tank known as Futuristic Main Battle Tank (FMBT) currently under development by DRDO hits production in 2020.