Ajai Shukla On His Alleged “Turnaround” on the Arjun MBT

Given that Ajai Shukla has taken the time out to write a full-on rejoinder in the comments section of the last-to-last post (refuting opinion from some quarters of a “turnaround” in his views of the Arjun MBT), I thought it could/would be suitably argued under a separate post altogether. A request — let’s have serious factual debate, not another vitiated comments section please! Here’s the meat from Ajai’s comment:

Ajai: Just to clarify, my view of the Arjun tank remains unchanged. The cretins who believe something has changed, and that “Ajai Shukla has done a turnaround” are basing it solely on one fact alone: that I’ve done an on-ground report on the Arjun. The TV story that I did makes ONLY the following points… and that’s pure journalism:

  1. These are the first video pictures of the Arjun.
  2. The problem with the hydro-gas suspension appears to have been fixed.
  3. The driver says it’s a world class tank. (NOTE: the driver says it… that’s a viewpoint. Nitwits who don’t understand reportage perhaps have a problem understanding the difference between what a reporter says and a view expressed by someone else).
  4. The Arjun will be pitted against the T-72 and the T-90 in comparative trials in June.
  5. The officer in charge of the project says (NOTE: I don’t say it… he does) that he thinks the Arjun is better and he hope for a level playing field in the trials.
  6. 14 tanks are ready for the trials and THE OFFICERS WHO MADE THE TANK are confident it will perform well.
My fundamental views of the Arjun’s flaws (posted on Bharat-Rakshak years ago) remain unchanged. Especially my views that:

  1. The tank suffers from a hybrid design where several major components have been bought off-the-shelf and slapped together into a tank.
  2. 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.
  3. The issue of translating a prototype into a production line remains beset with Quality Control problems.
  4. Strategic mobility remains a major problem for the Arjun.
  5. 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.

I also believe that if, on the other hand, the Arjun performs well in trials and comes up with even acceptable performances, give it a chance in service. But for that it must perform to an acceptable degree.

51 thoughts on “Ajai Shukla On His Alleged “Turnaround” on the Arjun MBT”

  1. The tank suffers from a hybrid design where several major components have been bought off-the-shelf and slapped together into a tank. ,

    Can Ajai tell us of one tank where this is NOT the case?

    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.

    Abrams, Leopard 2, Challenger 2 etc etc

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

    Same problem with the T-90. You have to learn sometime.

    Strategic mobility remains a major problem for the Arjun.

    Earmark routes in advance

  2. >> The tank suffers from a hybrid design where several major components have been bought off-the-shelf and slapped together into a tank.

    I am not sure I understand this. For e.g. my ipod says, designed in the US, made in China and probably has a bunch of other COTS from different countries inside. It would be an issue only if the ipod did not work as it was supposed to. Can you be more specific about this issue ? Is there anything in Arjun that doesnt work well with other parts of the 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.

    modern FCSs, thermal imaging and radars had no problems in picking up T72/T55 sized targets in Iraq. And in any case it seems to me that Arjun is only marginally larger than the T90..

    why do you say that Arjun cant pick up targets before they can see the Arjun. Are there some issues with gun accuracy/FCS/thermal sights that we dont know of ?

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

    Agreed, but OFB will have to bite this bullet of producing higher quality ordinance than they are used to, some time.. They cant even make T90 without QA issues when they have been making 72s for years now. Why not start with Arjun ?

    >> Strategic mobility remains a major problem for the Arjun.

    Both the T90 and the Arjun cant be air transported by any platform the IAF currently has. In any case, cold start envisions positioning strike elements nearer to the border where they can asked to mobilize at a ‘moments’ notice. why is strategic mobility so important ? Are you saying that the Arjun will have trouble moving from (say) Bikaner/Jaisalmer to Ambala ?


  3. Cross posting my reply to Shuklaji from the Akash post:


    It would be nice to hear what you feel personally about the Arjun, as a tank man, after having seen it personally.

    Coming to your article, I guess it was a pleasant surprise to see a piece that didn’t have a hero-villain story to it.

    As for your views, please elaborate, since most of the problems will be fixed with scale production…

    1. Off the shelf technologies: I wonder which ones these are- engine (indigenous one being developed), track (L & T making local ones), Sights… can’t think of anything else.

    As the MoD have themselves stated, with scale roduction, cost and indigenous content will increase.You don’t expect to create the complete thing locally unless you have large orders. Otherwise, the media will scream high cost.

    2. Silhouette: Arjun size is comparable to the others in its class…

    Arjun vs T-90

    Height 2.32 vs 2.23 m
    Width- 3.85 vs 3.78 m
    Gun Elev- -10/+20 vs -6/+15 degrees

    Considering its extra elevation/depression, don’t you think thats acceptable? Especially considering that the Arjun is much lower than the others in its class (most are 2.4 m at least).

    What about the power of its gun, which makes accuracy at extreme ranges possible? That would make sure that no tank can get into gun range of Arjun.

    Even if it is fired upon, its armor is far better than the T-90, isn’t it?

    3. the Problem is with the OFB, and I’m confident that it would be fixed, dont you think?

    5. Dont you think that it would be difficult for the Army which is used to T-series to adjust to the Arjun doctrine, which might skew the Trials?

    You never mention the changing GSQRs ever. Why is that?

    Also, you allege that the Arjun Project has cost 2000 Crores! (source: http://ajaishukla.blogspot.com/2007/01/defence-production-illusion-of-public.html). Even the Parliamentary report mentions only 315 crores. Sir, unless we have projects we dont know about, I believe you are wrong.

  4. Hybrid design, which one?
    Arjun MBT!!!!!!
    Who invented this !!!!!!

    Arjun MBT is entirely based on Western concepts. The primary design is similar that of the Leopard 2A4 Tank, because of the design consultancy by Krauss Maffei and the involvement of several German firms. This tank is not a hybrid between Western and Russian concepts.

    After chiding about the time taken (34 years – actual years taken 17), the weight of the tank and leakage of pneumatic suspension now, this person comes up with this awful opinion.

    The latest GSQR for MBT based on M1A1 Abrams was submitted to the DRDO in 1990. When you have a set of new requirements then, even if you have received an entirely different requirement earlier and worked on it for considerable time, you have to strap it and start from the beginning. This is not a consideration.

    With hybrid if he means about the integrating systems to tank then, what to tell. The engine for Abrhams, Merkava, Leclerc – tropical all features a MTU engine. Leave aside Leopard. So all these do not find any problems with integration, Only Arjun does!!.

    Oh! It must be about interaction of FCS or is it something else?

    Whatever, does the integration problem still exist or was it resolved 5 years ago? And is it till now he not aware of it, like Shiv.

    These guys never provide specifics just vague statements – “Problem Hybrid”. This is what make we guys leave aside the civilized way of criticizing them.

    “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.”

    Abrams at 2.42 meter and Israeli Merkava MBT at 2.66 meter is world-class tanks, which cannot be detected at all. Do not be surprised if he reasons they are completely stealth. We guys need to understand him better. Arjun at 2.32 m has a high profile, high visibility, high vulnerability to helicopter but not others.

    Oh god!!!! Give me stomach not use profanity over here. He must the thinking the tank should have a Silhouette of 1 meter

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

    Till now the tank was in development stage. Well, when the production line is setup and initial tanks come out of the line they may have some glitch. I do not think this issue is a major problem. How much big word is “beset” can it be made bigger?

    Some hiccups in quality for tanks coming out of recently setup production line can be termed as “Beset”.

    Strategic mobility?????????????????? What is that?
    Mobility and maneuverability seems to be fine in the videos we all watched. Strategic mobility!!!!!! Did he mean to say the tank should be able to travel from India to Europe with out any transportation like rails or lorry’s?

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

    Does he mean to say, if Arjun mk1 is a failure we do not even try to go for mk2 or mk3 by rectifying the problems?

    It is clear about the nefarious design that reflects in these articles. A purposeful suppression of facts or ignoring the achievements, repeatedly highlighting set backs even if they have been resolved way back.

    Now the new one!!!! Inventing evils, which does not subsist.



  5. [posted in the earlier post… but here it is again]

    Anonymous, Thanks for your considered judgement on my education, about which you haven’t the slightest idea! It’s a bit of a joke coming from someone who doesn’t have the courage to post under his name, leave alone posting his educational qualifications!

    But I can well understand your reticence! If I was talking about tanks without ever having driven one, fired one, exercised in one for months at a stretch, commanded a regiment and experienced for decades the environment in which India will fight (if it ever does), I’d be posting my writing about tanks under “Anonymous” too.

    You’re just an opinionated little ignoramus who’s read two and a half websites about armour, cut-and-pasted comparative statistics, but never experienced the practicalities of operating in a mechanised environment.

    Furthermore, even if your mad paranoid worldview of lifafas (hey shiv, which planet is this guy from?) were correct (which it is not), I certainly am given a monthly lifafa from NDTV and Business Standard. That’s in contrast to a loser like you, who’s never been paid a cent to write a word. Thank god for the blogosphere or you’d have died like the non-entity that you are.

    Guess what, Anonymous. That’s what you’ll always be, no matter how well educated you imagine yourself to be. Because you’re utterly ignorant about anything to do with tank warfare in the Indian context.

    All you’ll ever do is to hide behind your “anonymous” and post stuff that gels with the rah rah morons on Bharat Rakshak, who are scurrying out of that rathole onto this blog as well.

    This is not (as you in your blunt weapon-style manner suggest) because I’m trying to do down Shiv. He writes good sense. It’s people like you who are the nitwits on this blog.

    Don’t worry about who visits my blog. And don’t bother going there either, you won’t understand a word. It’s for serious students of defence production and logistics, not for cut-and-paste boyz with toyz like yerself.

    Bye anonymous! Get yourself a life. And get yourself a name. But use it only when you start writing sense.

  6. A knockout punch after a lot of wild arm-flailing!!!

    All well and good Ajaibhai, but you may be better off trying to talk to those of us here who actually aren’t anon (and ignore the rest who are still in grammer school). Could you please respond to some of the points raised above.

    Plus, like we’ve been asking, a nice post about what you personally thought about the Arjun, what its good at, and what shortcomings it has would be nice. Unfortunately, 2 weeks on, and still nothing.

    And, as you say, since most of us don’t know as much about tanks, could you kindly enlighten us please.

  7. Ajai,

    I have posted more than a handful of civil comments at your blog and here, but you pick out the most egregious of comments and go off on a tangent with flame wars and personal insults.

    So if you are more interested in flame wars, whats the point in posting civil comments about what you say ?

  8. Statistics says it all – that is what we need than your vague comments using words like “Problem Hybrid”, “High Profile”, “Stategic Mobility”.

    None of them seems to fit in.

    We are asking him for specifics and he just retorts with out making any of the valid points. What is the point?



  9. The gutter talk basically proves what Ajai is..so much for his education and (in)breeding.

    Thank goodness this chap is out of the army. One rotten apple can spoil the entire pile.

  10. Sudeep, Sandy, etc

    You are just rah-rah imbeciles fromn a boyz-for-toyz froum. As the good Colonel says, go read Guderian, Tukhachevsky, and Liddell Hart – maybe then you will understand why the Arjun is the wrong tank for India. In fact, I did just that, and I saw no reason to believe that the Arjun is a bad tank. But then again, I’m just another cretin from Bharat Rakshak 🙁

    – Mihir

  11. Thanks for letting us know what we are.

    But do not answer the points. Well done!!!!!

    Keep reading Guderian, Tukhachevsky, and Liddell Hart to know Arjun is the wrong tank for India.

    Why do not you guys answer the points. Is there something called logic that we both at the extreme ends of argument can understand?

    Why do not you guys take some pain in ass and answer the questions posted to you.

    Wouldn’t that be better?

    Vague comments and harking to the replys, that is all you guys can do. Isn’t it?

    Imbeciles. The question is who?

  12. Hilarious post Mihir. Its a pity that few people understand sarcasm.

    Wonder why Ajai Shukla hasn’t responded. Probably trying to figure out how to respond… lets hope he responds to the saner spectrum of the populace. Till now, he hasn’t.

  13. Ha! Deja-vu anybody?! Ajai Shukla again displays his splendid command over the English language and his utter contempt for civility, courtesy or respect for other readers.
    He doesn’t seem to grasp the idea of a discourse or discussion – his bloated ego doesn’t allow him that luxury. Rather, he still lives by his old rules – shoot and scoot!

  14. Ajai, is the Master of tank warfare !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Any one laughing over there?
    Please don’t.

    We are not talking about tank warfare; we are talking about the tank itself. It features and capabilities, if that were good, it would obviously do well in a warfare scenario.

    Can any one explain about Arjun’s : “Problem Hybrid”, “High Profile”, “Strategic Mobility”.

    Why is Arjun so and others are not?


  15. Sandy (12.39pm) – you dint get the sarcasm in Mihir’s post (12.14). Anyone who dares not to toe the line with the great colonel are “boyz-with-toyz” with no idea of tankwarfare balh.. blah..

    Where as the good colonel is the know-all tank’man’ with “barrel protruding out from front” – he who knows everything about tankwarfare but has zero commonsense.

    Its because of guys like these that services are losing their charm (pun intended). It is because of guys like these being in IA we see episodes of Ketchup colonel, booze generals, rapist brigadiers once a while. Shitty Blacksheep.

  16. Arjun is designed as per the GSQR given by the Army.

    The GSQR was decided by higher echelons in the Army who know what they are doing in asking as GSQR.

    So anyone screeching like a broken record in saying “Problem Hybrid”, “High Profile”, “Strategic Mobility” doesnt know actually what he is talking..

    Yes, the Colonel probably has devoted decades in tank warfare. But, he is not the only one who has this merit. Instead of calling himself as “All-in-all tank warfare specialist” better be served by calling as “T-72 limited tank warfare analyst”

    Dont worry chaps..held between the vice of reality one day he will gulp the truth(already he smelled the taste). he cant run anywhere. Pls reserve your judgement till then.

  17. “Hybrid Problem”…

    T-90S with foreign thermal sights is not hybrid ?

    Bhim, Karan are not hybrid ?

    Hey..even Su-30MKI is hybrid…So ?

    Can somebody wake him up to the reality ?

  18. If you guys think this is bad, you should ask what Army people thought of Ajai Shukla.he was thought to be a pompous blowhard even there.chap turned up in J&K to teach COIN specialists how to do their job. they laughed him out and told him to go hump his tanks.
    yaar every organization has a set of arrogant know it all ch**iyas. Ajai is the Armys version. dont judge the army by twits like ajai, there are a lot of decent, civil soldiers who can actually hold a decent conversation and talk sense.
    unlike ajai.


  19. AFAIK, he was considered a very very competent officer in the Armoured Corps… I don’t think anyone here is questioning his knowledge of mechanised warfare. Much of what he writes makes a lot of sense (like when he wrote about how it would make more sense for the IA to buy towed artillery instead of SP). But when he talks about the Arjun, he generally focuses on the engineering side of it… and when real engineers find flaws in his arguments, he blasts them for not being tankmen. And that is what I find wrong.

  20. Mihir..wht u say is half right and half wrong…Pls check, he was once reprimanded if wht i heard is true.

    See..there are different kind of experts…
    1. experts who excel ONLY in what they learned
    2. experts who are versatile, who can relate to various things beyond what they learnt and evolve a consolidated cognizance.

    this Colonel is of 1st type..He knows T-72, he worked on them and he sees everthing via the same prism. So, that is where he is wrong. And, he doesnt have guts to accept that his views could be wrong…he asserts that he only is right…thats where every problem starts..

    Again,.. Mihir..on towed and SP guns…he is not fully right..

  21. anon, reprimanded? in what way?

    interesting stuff…i usually find the chaps who brag the most about themselves and their background are the biggest “grey areas”..so as to speak.

    this ajai falls into the same category, vivek mentioned COIN, heard something similar about dear ajai. he wrote an article on the army tut tutting them about j&k. one army guy told me it was like listening to a gasbag throw his fart as far as possible, colorful but you get the idea, breaking wind.

    i heard another amusing story about ajai, during parakram ajai hero tried to pull a fast one on paddy by implying that force wouldnt be good enough to deter pak, paddy slapped him down verbally in public. ajai kept quiet.

    basically the typical bully, shuts his yap when somebody bigger appears along, lol

  22. Its a perfect spy thriller.

    Some foreign agents try to stop India from building a tank. They use ketchup colonels and queeinies.

    The officer and driver are satisfied with the tank. The maker of the tank has not problem.

    Major systems bought or made, Indian Army has to fight with it , right? T72 is totally bought tank and slapped on to Indian Army.

    Interesting read.

    of Arjun tank Development

    Whats ketchup’s problem?

  23. Ketchup’s problem is that all you boyz-with-toyz dont understand “tank warfare in the Indian context” which ONLY he understands. Most of the people posting have never been near a T72 and hence can not comment based on their understanding or commonsense – instead have to defer to his proclaimed no-sense nonsense.

    And for all his greatness he goes after some Anon, but does not have the balls to respond to Sudeep, Sniper, Sandy or Mihir. Because he doesnt have a valid answer or argument.

    You know Arjun doctrine is different to the way T72 fights, hence Arjun is bad. Why cant you guys understand. Can you not understand english?

    Idiots like him should understand that being in the Army doesnt mean he can bullshit and expect to be correct. Look at Col.Bainsla – whats the use.. Having spent time (proclaiming) guarding the borders, if you come and organize destruction of public property like a plain bully or corrupt politicians inciting public for their own gains. If he were sensible – wouldnt he have found a better way to organize his portest? Guys like these bring bad reputation to IndianArmy.

  24. “tank warfare in the Indian context”

    apart from the indian mentality..i dont see what is unique to indian context which has not appeared in other tank wars..and I dont see anyway the lessons from those wars cannot be applied to indian context.

  25. Ketchups’ cap has been damaged after his T-72 did a cross country run. His head kept banging against the hatch.His nuts got squeezed in the cramped condition in T-72 tank.

    His motto seems to be “if your head dosen’t bang against the hatch and nuts don’t squeez, it ain’t tank.”

  26. anon @7.07pm,

    you still dont understand “”tank warfare in the Indian context”

    You know its different. Ajai said it, so its different. Thats all. If you dont agree, you will officially be branded among ‘boyz-with-toyz’ by the powers vested in Ajai by the SC,Constitution by the virtue of his T72 experience.

    Maggi tomato Ketchup. Its different.

  27. Hi folks,

    Even the most cursory eye cast over the responses makes it clear: Anonymous = Asshole.

    For those who are asking serious questions, I’ll post a serious response. Haven’t been able to do so yet because I’m busy. If you doubt it, go to NDTV 24X7 at 9 pm tomorrow… or 10 pm on Thursday… and you’ll find me anchoring live at that time.

    But as I said, those who want a serious response on the Arjun issue will find it on my blog… ajaishukla.blogspot.com in a couple of days.

    And the twits who are going on about “reprimands” and “teaching experts stuff in J&K” are making only one thing really clear: they don’t have ANY friends in the army who they can verify my professional reputation from.

    Until then,


  28. Guys,

    Till now, we did not ask any serious questions !!!!!!

    We were joking, isn’t guys?
    What to say?

    Don’t bang your heads against wall. There is no use.

  29. Ajai,

    we might be assholes, but we arent simpering pussies. that dubious honor of being a cowardly shoot and scoot prima donna belongs only to u.

    there are some batchmates of yours who remember you fondly. others regard u as a pompous blowhard who routinely pushed himself as a napolean. the coin incident was narrated firsthand. so ya, it matters how one conducts oneself. perhaps now that you cant pull rank on ur detractors they are more likely to call it as it is. dont get worked up and throw a sissy fit.


    (and retard, i have been signing my name all the while. looks like the asshole is the one who cant read)

  30. Anonymous is the tool used by this twit as an excuse not to indulge in answering all genuine questions so far.. now he got one more excuse, time..but he has the time to respond to anonymous

    wht the heck being anonymous..if one prefer not to discolose his identity what will stop him ? Internet provide n number of ways to conceal..these are simple excuses to deny any proper response…

    dont have any intention of signing my name..what is the use in doing that..

  31. in my case it is simple. the security restrictions on my laptop with a preconfigured browser- i handle a lot of prprietary financial and technical data make it impossible for cookies to remain more than 1 session. so each time i visit, i have to login and reenter the same shite.
    why bother- id rather sign my name, vivek and be done with it. now colonel blimp is above such things but again, who cares.

  32. First point,I am still wondering where the promised report proving the failure of Arjun in Ashwamedh exercise, is. It has been almost 2 months since the exercise and the apparent promise!

    Second point it is almost the end of June…. IA still hasn’t pitted the Arjun with the invincible T-90. I wonder why?

  33. >>I am still wondering where the promised report proving the failure of Arjun in Ashwamedh exercise

    Oh you have to wait till for another reported problem in Arjun, so that it can show the teeth saying “i told you na”

  34. Oh Shukla ji

    your nemesis are on the prowl…watch sorry read this…


    The weight of the Arjun MBT is incidental to the Indian Army General Staff Qualitative Requirement (GSQR). Arjun Tank weight arises due to the systems and protection levels as monitored by the Vice Chiefs of Army Staff right from the project inception. Since Arjun Tank project was initiated to match the current western MBT’s, naturally, the Arjun MBT weight will also match them.

    Some senior Indian army officers have the opinion that the Arjun is too heavy for bridges on Indian western border and for the bridging equipment held by the Indian Army Corps of Engineers. We need to look at the Arjun MBT weight issue in a broader perspective, at the entirety of reasons and implications. It has to be analyzed based on tactical and strategic mobility of the Arjun Tank.

    India busted the myth of the Patton’s in 1965, with Centurions Mk VII which weighed close to 52t. In 35 years gone by, Indian infrastructural woes has caught up with Arjun Tanks too, in addition to not being able to run heavier cost efficient big trucks on the roads and bridges. In comparission to Centurions Mk VII, the Arjun Tank is a mere 7 ton heavier. As the China builds “otherwise” impossible rail and road networks on Indian border to counter a future threat, India has not bothered to make infrastructural improvements to take on current threats.

    The Arjun MBT is the heaviest tank in our inventory, but that is not a reflection of its agility and gradability. Being powered with a 1400 HP engine, its HP / t ratio is 23.9 which is substantially better than 20.4 of the BMP which is its combat support.

    Arjun MBT has a bigger track-print, hence, its Nominal Ground Pressure is only 0.84 kg/cm2 which compares well with other MBTs of the world . Further, with a combination of low NGP and high power / weight ratio, it has commendable going ability. The proof being Arjun MBT crossing the Ravi at Lassian, without any engineer support, whatsoever and it has crossed numerous patches of marshy terrain which are marked ‘non-tankable’ in going maps of the Gurdaspur-Pathankot sector.

    MBT Arjun is broader and heavier than other tanks in our fleet, resulting in special, but not insurmountable, difficulties in transportation. During the last 15 years, various prototypes of Arjun MBT has been moved for trials to various sectors, by both, rail and road, by existing means of transportation, albeit with adhoc expedients, but without facing any serious difficulties.

    The existing BWTA wagons have pay load capacity of 60+ tons ; the Arjun weighs 58.5 tons. The only issue is that the width of the tank is more than that of the flat and so, the tracks protrude on both sides. A six inch wooden sleepers when placed on the floor of the wagons before loading the Arjun MBT ensures that the tank tracks move over adjacent platforms without fouling with them. With this arrangement Arjun MBT’s were moved as class ‘A’ ODC on Chennai-Delhi, Delhi-Suratgarh, Delhi-Jaiselmer, Chennai-Balasore and Balasore-Delhi lines, on several occasions.

    In addition, Ministry of Railways, RDSO, Lucknow were approached in 1992 to conduct a feasibility study for rail transportation of MBT Arjun. The study was based on a two pronged approach i.e. design of a new wagon and modification of existing BWTA wagon. The feasibility report was submitted along with all-India broad gauge railway maps showing sectors where the loaded wagon could move as class ‘A’ ODC and the empty wagon could be run as non-ODC. In consonance, the Army HQ, Q Move (Rail) approved both proposals. The RITES / Texmaco team has delivered prototypes of the new wagon for field trials in 2006, it has been proposed that the case for modification to existing BWTA wagons be foreclosed because the population of the new rail wagons can comfortably match the production schedule of the Arjun MBT.

    On a number of occasions, the Arjuns has been ferried over long distances, on BEML P-80 trailers towed by Tatra Tractors. Of course, in this case also, the tracks of the tank protrude on either side of the P-80 mount, but that is so with even other tanks like T-90S and T-72’s in Indian Army fleet.

    In December 1994 the DGST sent a copy of their Draft GSQR 636 for a 65 ton trailer to BEML Bangalore who, in turn, have issued their specification for the new trailer which is to be towed by BEML-Tatra T815 VTI 8×8 tractor which is already in service.

    CVRDE has successfully designed and proven a scissors type 20m, cl 60 BLT (christened Kartik) on the Vijayanta chassis. Another scissors type bridge layer of MLC 70 has been built on the T-72 hull and this also spans 20m. The latest on the anvil is the Arjun BLT with a sliding MLC 70 bridge and a span of 24m. That constitutes substantial initiative and homework on the part of DRDO for trafficability of the Arjun and any other heavy vehicles / equipment.

    It is true that assault bridging equipment are scarce but are a number of bridging equipment over which Arjuns can traverse without risk. These include the PMP / PMS, MGB, MLAB, Sarvatra, CEASE (60) and the KM (wet type).

    The issue of “Civil Bridges Over Defence Oriented Canals” is a painfull episode for the simple reason that, when India built ‘defence oriented canals’, we ought to have also planned ‘defence oriented bridges’ on them. Alternatively, we should have upgraded them in requisite sectors which, in any case, is imperative now. It would be quixotic to propose a solution by seeking reduction of the weight of the Arjun to suit vintage bridges!

    There have been proposals of purning the Arjun MBT weight. Even Indian Army’s opinion is divided over this new, trivial issue which may be referred, perhaps more aptly, as a ‘non-issue’. Yet, in the din which accrues from the gambit of dissent and the consequent ‘unfounded fear of non-acceptance’, panic-driven designers and a section of supporting Users have jointly undertaken a weight reduction exercise !

    Several areas of the tank have been identified and targeted for reductions ranging from a couple of hundred kgs to just a few hundred grams! In ultimate judgement, if the cumulative loss is not going to change the bridge classification of the Arjun, the whole effort will have been rendered futile. All attempts at weight reduction must be made conditional, in that, there will be no trade-offs with some other parameters such as levels of protection, structural strength, life expectancy of alternate materials and the ease of handling and maintenance.

    The Arjun excels the specifics for self-propulsion stated in the GSQR. As for transportation and bridging are concerned, no one in the world designs tanks to suit these means. Instead, civil and military bridges, and the means of rail / road transportation are upgraded to suit new tanks. If Indian Army has problems with the bridges on the defensive canals or assault bridging equipment, its Indian Army’s fault.

    Pasting it in full as this by itself a best rejoinder to Shukla’s badmouth on Arjun.

    — Diehard Maverick

  35. And that Shiv,
    is how you write a technical article when dealing with defense system.

    Please for god sake please stop using parlimentary reports for basis of any article.

  36. A request — let’s have serious factual debate, not another vitiated comments section please! -shiv

    Now shiv to whom had you requested this? To the anonymouses or to Ajai.

    Dear Lt. Col. Shukla, Please be civil as I am being to you as well. I havent used any words like nitwits or ignoramus for you. Please keep the respect we have for you intact. And please for God’s sake answer the questions instead of trying to get personal with the questioner.

    Now I am not the same anonymous who wrote above but tell me something about this

    1)Do helicopters not use infrared imaging for detecting tanks? What matters most then? Profile or bigger IR signature? Are most modern anti tank missiles not IR guided?

    2)Does T-90 or T-72 have an answer for a helicopter threat which uses IR detection? Does PA not have helicopters which use IR detection?
    Doesnt the use of an APU reduce the IR signature?

    You said this:
    Vulnerable to helicopter, ATGM and tank attack from ranges beyond which it can pick up those enemies.

    Which tank can pick helicopters? Do they have radars for picking helos?

    about ATGM attacks, can you please tell us what are the ranges of ATGM attacks? and the range of detection by the arjun?

    Tank attacks? Which tank? What ranges do they have? Again what is the range of detection of tank sized target by the arjun?

    Will the arjuns and T-90s be not supported by battery level radars? and ALHs with Mistral missiles? or any other SAM battery?

    What exactly does strategic mobility mean? What it means in terms of cold-start doctrine?

    Hybrid design issue: What are the major shortcomings of such a design? and as the earlier anonymous has noted doesnt T-90 have TIs bought off the shelf and God knows what not as hybrid?

    You said in the interview that the 2 metre obstacle was beyond other tanks, please note you said it and nobody else, without any apparently or other words. Please tell us is this true? And how much significance does that have?

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

    Yes but we have to face this issue isnt it? It wont get solved if we kept shelving the projects right? Until we start manufacturing the products its going to be beset with problems. The way to go about solving this issue is
    1)HAL and Ship dock way: Incorporate the production agency into design house or the design house in the production agency.
    2)ISRO way: Incorporate the production house into the end-user.

    Keeping OFBs independent is adding another dimension to an already convoluted problem.

    The DRDO needs accountability and the army needs to be broad-minded about indigenous products.

    You never mention the changing GSQRs ever. Why is that?
    Indeed why is that? what were the GSQRs? What was the target weight? More importantly, Why was is set at that target weight? What is with ground pressure and weight?

    I am asking this to you and to you alone. I dont believe you are a lifafa, whatever that means. Not all of us will be lucky enough to get an experience in tank warfare in Indian context, so please explain to us unlucky ones what you mean? One line answers leave a lot to be explained and as a result lead to misinterpretation by a lot of people

  37. Jaidev..many good & thought provoking questions from you..

    Hybrid design issue: What are the major shortcomings of such a design? and as the earlier anonymous has noted doesnt T-90 have TIs bought off the shelf and God knows what not as hybrid?

    if you ask me, i would say, the choice of a tank designed for russian conditions further modified to Indian conditions is a hybrid one.

    Having said, I too expect, Ajai Shukla, to expand the theme he is trying to say. As you said, he is one who commandered the Tank segment. So, I too very much interested in seeing the reply from Ajai Shukla. Can Shiv help in this..Will Ajai see our genuine request ?


  38. Have a look at IPCS-Special-Report-23. It was published in June 2006. Reading it, we can understand how unscrupulous our reporters. However, deliberately they have over played the weigh factor of ARJUN in the last one-year itself.

    They have also provided with a nice comparison chart some one was looking out for. It needs to updated a little bit


  39. Ajai so what do I see hear you talking of education and other qualifications eh…. that from an army man .You should be last man to talk of those so what are you a 12 pass class and got a degree from NDA Oh I know how mock tets are held and people pushed through the courses over there btw how uch did ya pay to get through the SSB ?.You should be the last one to talk of educational qualifications.

    Hack Ptooth.

  40. Dude, I mean i havent seen such maligned low key yello journalist like you, I mean do you know about a tank have you been to an assembly line of tanks before. I mean i donot think you have enough qualification or to that matter experience or even reading knowledge to write. You are lucky man , ideally you should be sued for spreading misinformation and maligning some good work doneesp in case of the arjun something like murali did for bedi.

  41. “The tank suffers from a hybrid design where several major components have been bought off-the-shelf and slapped together into a tank.”

    Someone please tell the good colonel that the process of taking off-the-shelf subsystems and mating them with other components to form the complete system is called SYSTEMS INTEGRATION and is a part of EVERY MAJOR HARDWARE PROJECT.

    I don’t know what this person is – he may be an expert on armour and whatnot, but one thing he definitely is not is an engineer.

  42. I have read this article and it is good but lacks some of the fundamental issues to be addressed, It is not worthy to compare Arjun MBT`s credibility with other tanks, i think there is lot more to be known behind the stage….Please visit http://beginningofcoldwar.blogspot.com for more information and please post comments(it should not be biased)..

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  46. Mr shukla..as a reader of business standard and watching you on ndtv shows i had started admiring you and agreeing to your views on most issues..unfortunately after reading your comments against anonymous in the above page…i have to change my views..please apologize in the larger interest…the nation is bigger.

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