“Arjun In Present Form Can Never Be Our MBT, 2 More Regiments Possible”

I don’t think any results of trials have been as closely guarded as the ones of the Arjun tank in the Thar desert straddling this month and the last, and which ended a little over a week ago. And while the trial team’s report will only be submitted in the first week of next month, I had a candid chat with an Army officer who was part of one of the trial teams, and I have to admit he’s the first Army tankman I’ve spoken to so far who’s admitted that the Army is as much to blame for the Arjun’s “situation” (his word) as DRDO. I can’t go into everything he said, because he’s requested me not to get into the details until the trial report is in, but here’s a gist of what he thinks. Remember, these’s aren’t facts, but a considered assessment of an officer who was part of the latest trial exercise. A lot of what he said was obvious — stuff that’s been guessed at for years, so I’ll put what he said on the table — make what you will of it. Here’s a list of some of the things he shared with me:
  • “The Arjun performed all its objectives to the full satisfaction of the trial team. I should point out that there was little doubt in our minds at this stage that any major issues would crop up in the platform. The Arjun has reached a level of maturity after several trial rounds, so we were quite confident that we would not encounter any developmental or serious technological issues.”
  • “In its current form and configuration, I think the Army has already made it very clear that the Arjun cannot be the mainstay of the armoured corps. There are several reasons for this, including some intangibles which everyone is aware of, but to be fair to the Army, there is logic to the argument that the Arjun belongs to a certain design and configuration philosophy that the Army does not want in its future tank. These trials have given deep perspective into where the Arjun fits in our battle order.”
  • “Although it is not definite at this stage, and may change in the course of the days ahead, several key decision-makers in the Army have in-principle agreed to the suggestion that the Arjun in its present form can occupy four tank regiments. But there is resistance to this idea from the field. The just concluded trials could support the possibility of a total of four Arjun regiments focused on desert operations.”
  • “The Army should share the blame also for not expediting its requirements for a future main battle tank (FMBT). There have been internal studies for years, but to this day, there is no definite picture of what our FMBT should have, look like or be capable of. So when the people at DRDO blame us for indecision and mid-stream QR changes, they do seem to have a case. As they did with Arjun.”
  • “The Army is quite clear. We need to close one chapter and begin another. Call it Mark-2, call it something else. But things need to move forward. It is unhealthy how things have progressed, though I can say in the last three years there appears to be a much greater empathy between the Army and DRDO about how to take things forward. Let’s hope it continues.”
  • “Admittedly, the trials may not go a long way in resurrecting Arjun as some quarters have been led to believe, but it has been a healthy exercise and the Army is in a strong position now to use the Arjun to the best of its abilities. The tank has been given its due.”

46 thoughts on ““Arjun In Present Form Can Never Be Our MBT, 2 More Regiments Possible””

  1. Thanks for the update Shiv!! I am looking forward to the full trial results, and hopefully, you and/or Ajai should post it soon.

    I have a question on this statement: "Army have in-principle agreed to the suggestion that the Arjun in its present form can occupy four tank regiments. But there is resistance to this idea from the field."

    Is there resistance to adding more regiments or is there resistance to the fact that they are stopping at just four regiments? What do the soldiers in the field who use Arjun say?

  2. Although the Army could bi part of the problem, my opinion is that it is DRDO's fault for not exploring the needs of market its aiming.

  3. What a donkey to state that the tank has been given its due, if only 4 regiments are ordered. The Indian Armys serving generals seem to have their ego decide everything.

    ""The Army is quite clear. We need to close one chapter and begin another. Call it Mark-2, call it something else. But things need to move forward. It is unhealthy how things have progressed, though I can say in the last three years there appears to be a much greater empathy between the Army and DRDO about how to take things forward. Let's hope it continues."

    In other words, the Arjun was a good tank, DRDO did its job, we really cant accept either, cause we called the first names and treated the second like second class citizens, and since we cant admit we are wrong…why dont you all just get lost and move on..

    man…the indian army is anything but professional in some areas..:-(

  4. this is pure BS. Army does not want Indian equipment. Why dont they join Russian Army and fight for them using russian metal

  5. Shiv, I'm not sure if your source is not a shill, even if he is a senior officer. This is the second time you've talked about only 2 more regiments. Is there a possibility the story is a plant and your officer one of the famous Natasha dance bar patrons? πŸ™‚

  6. Good article & thanks for it Arrorji. Army & DRDO should work together as a team rather than blaming each other to get something that is our own.

  7. Don't take the blame, take the Tank.

    Cancel the FMBT and get the army to put as much electronics they want into the Mark 2 Arjuns. We cannot be in R&D stage forever. It's time to build, build and build our own and indegenize more and more percentage. And Mark 2 Arjun is closer to that goal than any FMBT not even on the drawing boards yet.

  8. Thanks for the Info Shiv,

    Lets hope that Army orders at-least 10-12 regiments of ARJUN for rajasthan and other places where it can be pitted against the enemy. Simultaneously DRDO can keep its production line busy and incorporate state-of-art new technologies, structural changes so that it can prove its mettle as Futuristic MBT.

    Hey I have a doubt. Can Carbon composites be used in Arjun to reduce weight and increase survivability and life?

  9. Hi shiv

    I need your assessment on the following. will be pleased if you consider it worthwhile to shed some light on it.


    1. Shut T-90s production line after 1200

    2. Use the money that was to be used for the remaining 457 to acquire Shtora active protection system and the T-90’s thermal imaging (TI) sights.

    3. Indigenously develop a variant of the INVAR missles.


    1. Expand production line to 1200.

    2. Find ways to reduce Arjun Mk-2 weight below 50.

    3. Enhance its night fighting ability with indigenous TI systems.

    4. Makeup the disadvantage to weight, width and transportation add the facility available with Swedish S-tanks.


    1. Sell 500 of them to Afganistan.

    2. Put 1000 refurbished ones in reserve


    1. Establish a new tank production line, preferably with pvt co.

    2. Establish atleast 4 more refurbish and repair facilities for tanks , infantry vehicles across India

    I will like to make some new additions to these.

    1. Work on Future MBT should start keeping in mind +/- of T-72s, T-90s and Arjuns.

    2. US is moving out of Afganistan, India needs to fill the void, and 500 T-72s will be more than enough for us to solidify our relationship, if we exclude training the Afgan Army.

    3. There is urgent need to develop indegenous ammo. for our tanks, esp. the fuse.

    4. Refurbishing should be left to a dedicated concern.

  10. dexy, you are talking like a complete moron, the arjun is made to the army's order EXACTLY as it asked and you are saying "not exploring the market".

    bl00dy soap seller, this is not a detergent powder, this is a tank that is made EXACTLY as the sutomer wants it to be.

  11. PanIndian MarathaM

    Congrats DRDO!
    Since in its present form 2 more tank regiments are possible and only the sensible thing to do to present a formidable armoured challenge in thar desert.

    What about the plains of punjab? May be no. A new tank has to be built which should be able to cross the many rivers present in punjab.

    The resistence from 'field' = Foreign lobbyists,. These people are obviously being paid. These guys should be singled out and subjected to corruption check.

    Everybody knows that Arjun cannot be the mainstay of the armoured corps but if arjun cant then T-90 definitely doesnt. Its time to go for some leopard / leclerc system for the 'mainstay'. No russian tanks plz.

    The arjun, mark II with active 'private' partcipation from companies like 'L&T', 'Mahindra', 'TATA' withe right quality control will be 'export' material. Hope DRDO doesnt let its ego come in the way of private participation.

  12. What is interesting is the comment that Arjun is of a "different design philosophy" which will not fit in Army's plans.

    What is strange about this comment is that it was the Army who formed the requirement for such a "design philosophy"!

    Why does the Army makes us want to believe that DRDO built the tank through day dreaming and presented it to the army on one fine morning!

  13. @ anon 12:30PM

    The requirement was projected in early 80s… hopin dat the tank would be ready in a few years…

    Its been quarter of a century since those requirements were projected.. of course the tank has already outlived its "Philisophical Life"…

    The army doctrine keeps changing depending on various strategic factors.. though they are not complete turnarounds, but with every new doctrine comes a new way of using our forces to the best possible extent.. but after a quater of century, it surely will look different..

    If the Army's philosophical requirement is asked for to make a machine, atleast the DRDO must make an endeavour to show its first workable prototype before the Philisophy's time Expires.. and not 30 yrs after the IDEA struck us … πŸ˜‰

  14. If Army is sincere when it talks about its design philosophy, then the next step would be to chalk out the requirement for the FMBT. Its time we stop creating our needs and requirements based on American, European and Russian product. Its time that we stop being the follower and be the leader.

  15. I still dont get it. The Arjun is significantly superior in almost all aspects, yet the T-90 gets the okay and the Arjun is called obsolete etc.

    "In its present form". What the heck is that supposed to mean? Whats wrong with its present form? In its "present form" it beats the sh*t out of your T-90s. On the other hand "in its present form" the t-90 doesnt have anything. Not an engine that runs at rated power, no thermal imager, no Shotra, nothing. I even read that it cant shoot on the move and to reload for a second shot you need to realign the gun to the autoloader.

    How can a tank be superior to another in every respect and still have to be discarded??!!!

    "Several reasons, including INTANGIBLES". The reasons have to be intangible. In addition they have to be illogical and incomprehensible as well.

    And then people ask why we are casting aspersions on the integrity of officers!

  16. No wonder if Arjun doesn't meet Army's reqs but how in the world Tin-90 meets Army's reqs?!!! Thats a serious doubt!!!!

  17. ah, pramod, fibbing again are you ?

    The requirement was projected in early 80s…

    1994, not early 80's, check again.

    wtf is hopin dat ?
    anyway, the tank was ready by 1997 and additional improvements like the digital FCS were completed by 2000

    If the Army's philosophical requirement is asked for to make a machine, atleast the DRDO must make an endeavour to show its first workable prototype before the Philisophy's time Expires.. and not 30 yrs after the IDEA struck us … πŸ˜‰

    STOP lying !

  18. this is pure crap from the army…

    they just don't want the arjun….and have no logical reason whatsoever..so are talking in this misleading garbage.

    its a very sad episode for our domestic defence industry..

    the govt. should intervene here..it really shud…

  19. Dedicated to all the Fraud stars who preferred derailing of indegenious product and effort for senseless reasons and daring to continue so even now:

    'You, oh men of religion
    are a leaning wall
    a tottering fence
    not hearing because of unbelieving
    and not seeing because you’re damned
    by your mouths full of pleasant words
    and iron hands
    loading cold throats to the brim
    with words and actions, forced past
    the caverns of your mouths
    to return, ragged outward
    proving that you are

    a product of construction
    of tangled, straggling afterthoughts
    of a God that should bear
    our full attention
    full devotion
    and not just be another add-on.'

  20. The only "philosophical change" that has happened is Pakistan did not buy Abrahams!

    How can a doctrine change from wanting a T-72, then a 60 ton Arjun, then again a T-90. What is the doctrine here?

    What will happen if Pakistan is gifted a M1A2 as part of "WOT".

    Will the doctrine change again? What will we then do with the 1500 odd T-90s?

    If we have keep changing our doctrine every decade despite the fact that Pakistan is still struck with "t-series" and it's kids, it means we are bad at planning.

    The threat never changed, simple fact we never planned to deal with in the first place! Our absurd thought of "enough to handle PA" has lead PA to think they have a chance fighting IA!

    And I dont know why T-90 is called lighter tank. Please convince me that it will not get bogged down in the wet fields of Punjab!

    I so wish that for once IA decides to overwhelm PA rather than "handling the threat" and giving PA a chance to fight.

  21. @anon 6.35 pm…

    i am no preacher of arjun or t-90..

    finally the end user is interested in smthin which works well..smthin which will help me screw the enemy hard and keep me alive inside for as much time as is possible to keep screwin them..

    and for your info.. arjun was first sanctioned in 1974.. 1980 was the prjected date of prototype production…the first prototypes were tested in 1988… ( u said 1994 was the first date?? )

    and finally don't use words like liar etc..maintain the decorum of this blog.. πŸ™‚

    .. yeah i did lie.. i said 1980s.. not 1970s… just to keep sm ppl like you smiling..

    dear shiv.. if u can intervene n tell us the actual time line of MBT Arjun.. even i am not very sure about the dates i hav told.. but this is what i am aware of.. thnx

  22. The army probably thinks that Arjun is an overkill w.r.t. Pak and not worth taking the pains ie new logistics, training etc. They may be right in believing that T90 is good enough for our requirement. This belief can change rapidly if Pak gets to lay its hands on M1A1 / M1A2 Abrams. Lets hope Pak does us a favour.

  23. Wow! The Army sets the GSQR for the Arjun and when the DRDO delivers the product to the specification of the GSQR, the Army says it doesn't fit their doctrine! Amazing! So who were the buggers who set the GSQR? Martians?

  24. first of all the idea of 30 years is all crap…….the tank has gone a long way after that "miraculous idea" struck. there have been tech enhancements and updates in the requirements to keep up with changing times but, how did we know that in that much time our enemy would be different…..!!!!!!

  25. Why dont we incorporate modular armour like they have in merkava or the Japanese new tank, which would take out all the fuss that the anti-Arjun lobby has been making against its induction in large numbers in IA armored core??

  26. pramod, you are ignorant as well ! in that case should you shoot your mouth off before knowing the facts ?
    the army changed its requirements as many as four times during those thirty years you speak of, the last one being in 1994. even as late as mid 1980's the requirement was for a tank that didn't fire APFSDS rounds, a must requirement for a modern tank.


    the arjun of today has no similarity to the army requirements of 1972,1978 and 1982.

    it was only in 1985 that the army asked for an arjun that is close to the current arjun, another set of requirements were added in 1994. by 2000, the tank was ready but the army was not. πŸ™

  27. Why dont you name the officer. How can you do an entire story, including the headline of the story, based on an anonymous source. Looks like a plant. You know such a thing could've never been entertained in a newspaper.

  28. The trend worldwide has been from light to heavy. Sufficient armour= weight.
    Since when did the tincans satisfy the change in army's doctrine over 30 years ? The T-90 is old too and a light tank like T-90 somehow continues to satisfy the present day requirements of Army when world has moved on to heavier better armoured tanks !!!!

  29. I keep wandering, why all the crazy commenters here keep yelling that Arjun is better then T-90? Is there more to this then some newspaper claims it is actually better?

    Do you even allow the thought that Arjun is indeed flawed design?

    Have you ever read about its flaws? πŸ™‚

  30. andrey, what are these so-called 'flaws', why don't you educate us instead of jumping up and down shouting "flaws, flaaaws" like a orangotang ?

  31. Shiv, I know you moderate this blog, but is there any reason why you don't answer any questions?

    I had asked the question below which was the first comment in the blog. But you haven't clarified it yet. It would be good if you can clarify it too.

    My question:

    I have a question on this statement: "Army have in-principle agreed to the suggestion that the Arjun in its present form can occupy four tank regiments. But there is resistance to this idea from the field."

    Is there resistance to adding more regiments or is there resistance to the fact that they are stopping at just four regiments?

  32. The fact is that the Arjun is eminently capable of being deployed in Punjab or any other areas with canals criss-crossing teh landscape. The reason is that while being 58 tons, the Arjun's ground pressure is LOWER than that of the T-90. It is the T-90 which has a higher chance of getting bogged down in such terrain as compared to the Arjun.

    I just cannot understand why the IA is treating the Arjun so badly when in almost every matter the Arjun stands out as being superior to the T-90 and costs only about Rs 3-4 crore more than a T-90..of course the T-90s price goes up when you include the cost of the Shtora, added Air conditioning, modified Thermal Imagers, etc.

    just compare the Arjun to the T-90.
    A better Power to weight ratio than the T-90 , better ride comfort, larger interiors and lower interior temperatures resulting in lower fatigue for the crew, meaning they're working optimally, better protection, better accuracy, thermal imagers that WORK in 60 deg heat of desert, ability to fire on the move, accuracy of fire rated at PoK of 80% or more..

    if the Arjun was a Russian tank and the T-90 was Indian, we'd see the IA ordering thousands of them and its "philosophy" would then be that of using better protected, more accurate and mobile tanks to destroy the T-series tanks on the PA side.

  33. To Mr.Andrey,

    Please explain those flaws. We are very much open to understand them.

    We have read so many articles/blogs on Arjun and all of them have the same complaints against ARJUN, which were rectified in course of time. And now its program has become so mature that it can incorporate future technologies within no time.

    If Mark-1 is so good, understand how Mark-2 will be?

    Please dont comment unless u have sound knowledge and solid proof.

    Thank you.

  34. I think it is time DRDO is allowed to bribe Army officers. This is what firangi companies do, and lack of 'fees' it what is hampering Arjun.

    Sad to admit but out senior Army officers are not any better than Pakistani ones. Same "culture". Our Army officers turn a blind eye to corruption and incompetence of politicians, so they think they deserve a 'payout' of some sort. This they collect through bribes from defense firms and contractors.

  35. i am a through pro ARJUN guy u will be surprised that ONE DOES NOT HAVE TO BE A GENIUS to know that the T-90 which is supplied to us is an overhauled product without the maintainance support it is costing us afew lakh less than the mighty ARJUN but along with the tech back up etc it will be atleast 6- lakh more costly than ARJUN. Therefore this is again the same ol russian con to palm off its old products for a good price and for the same price make new ones for themselves. take Admiral Gorshkov for eg. itis like blackmail.

  36. I think the IA strategy of using T90s on the grounds that existing bridges can support them is deeply flawed. If it comes to war, the Pakis will simply destroy bridges to nullify the T90s. If the IA is going to effectively use tanks at all in Punjab, they will need to bring their own river fording equipment, and if they do, then they might as well deploy fording equipment that can carry the marginally heavier Arjun.

    The Arjun fitted with deep fording snorkel equipment like the Leopard 2, would also be free to roam across the canals and small rivers up to 4m deep in Punjab without any dependency on bridges. That would cover most of the rivers and canals in Punjab. There is a video below showing two German Leopard 2's using these.

    The Arjun is actually better than the T90 for Punjab as well as Rajastan. Only in the mountainous areas of the Himalayas are better suited to the T90.

  37. DRDO is doing some work. But it is mostly outdated and not catching up with the latest which West or Russia offers.

    Indian Public sectors like BEL and HAL etc are reduced their role to pure brokers. For 8-10% of orders, they will give their letter head to anyone today!!!!

  38. Are you referring to technology or kick backs? In the case of the DRDO's work on the Arjun, technology and capability wise, it is demonstrably ahead of the T90, and with substantial orders which would lead to add-ons like ERA and laser targeting jammers, could easily match the Leopard II.

    I fear it is the kickback front (the offering not taking) that Indian companies fall far behind Western and Russian standards.

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