Arjun’s Demons To Rest?

Contrary to what reports in the newspapers and television have reflected, the Arjun MBT programme has actually found a voice of unlikely support in the 14th and 15th Reports of the Standing Committee on Defence. And I say unlikely, because, there has never been place for a degree of openness in the observations it has made previously on the programme. Now stubborn apologists (like Frontier India!) and hecklers (like me!) aside, here’s what the Committee had to say, along with MoD/DRDO testimony. Maybe all of this should put to rest a few rankling demons for both sides. And before you read on, remember, this is stuff taken from all sides so it’s about as fair as it could get without delving into the unsuitably jargonesque:

Committee Observation: “The Committee are deeply concerned about the progress of Arjun Tank as its production schedule are going very slow. The Committee, as recommended in their earlier reports, desire that Ordnance Factory in coordination with DRDO should carry out suitable modifications in ‘Gunners main sight’ and ‘Gun control system’ of the Arjun Tank at the earliest and hand over the rectified Tanks to the Army 2007-08. The Committee also stress that time limit prescribed should not be further extended. The Committee also desire that accountability for delay in production of the Arjun Tank may be fixed”.

MoD/DRDO Response: All the technical issues in the Gunner’s Main Sight and Gun Control System have been resolved. Suitable modifications have been carried out in these sub-systems on the initial five tanks of MBT Arjun by DRDO, the agency involved for conception and development of the project. After successful DRDO evaluation, five tanks have already been handed over to Army on 20th Jun 2006. Army has been invited for Joint Receipt Inspection (JRI) of Nine more tanks. The JRI is likely to commence from 1st week of February 2007. It is expected that a total of 29 MBT Arjun tanks will be ready for inspection by Army by the end of March 2007. The concern of the Committee for fixing up accountability for delays is noted. In a project of this magnitude involving design, development, manufacturing, and integration of diverse technologies, delays normally happen due to technical hitches in perfecting the technology. (Ministry of Defence OM No. H-11013/15/2006/D(Parl) dated 15.2.2007)

Committee Recommendation: The Committee note that all technical issues relating to Arjun Tank have been resolved and after successful evaluation five tanks have been handed over to Army in June 2006 and 29 MBT Arjun Tanks will be ready for inspection by Army by the end of March 2007. The Committee hope that progress of Arjun Tank will go on as per schedule and in future there will not be any technical problem in operation of Arjun Tank in any form in order to avoid frequent discussion on this matter. The Committee strongly recommend that accountability may be fixed for inordinate delay in production of MBT Arjun and the Committee may be informed about the action taken in this matter.

MoD/DRDO Testimony on What Went Wrong: In March 1974, the Government of India accorded clearance for the development of an indigenous Main Battle Tank (MBT) in order to put India on the world map along with other countries capable of mastering the technology of designing and developing their own MBTs. DRDO was nominated to execute the mission. The Chronology of Development is as under:

Development of first prototype — November 1983
Development and production of next — November 1983 to 1992
Series prototypes (12 Numbers) Development and production of Pre-Production Series — 1992 to 1995
Production of another three PPS tanks — 1995-1996
Rolling out of five Limited Series — 07 August 2004
Production (LSP) tanks Five LSP tanks handed over to 43 Armoured Regiment — February 2005

Committee: The Ministry was asked to give comparative table of production cost, features and capability of Arjun Tank with original and upgraded T-90 and T-72 Tank. The Ministry replied as under:

MoD/DRDO: MBT Arjun is a 60 tonne class battle tank with state of the art optro-electronic power-packed control system, weapon management system and high performance suspension. It is a product unique in its class specifically configured for Indian Army requirement. Unlike T-90 tank which was primarily built for Russian Armed Forces, adapted by Indian Army for certain specific roles, this T- 90 is a 50 tonne class vehicle which does not have some of the advanced features of MBT Arjun. But it is an improved system over T-72 tank. A price comparison between the two tanks, therefore, will not be in order. However, it is important to know that MBT Arjun had a cost of Rs 17.20 crore per system from the production line and is Rs 6-8 crore cheaper than its contemporary system in the west. It is understood that T-90 tank is costing approximately Rs. 12 crore and is yet to be indigenised. Some of the salient features of the three tanks are: Four men operated crew, 120 mm gun, 60 tons weight, powered by1400-1500 hp engine. And for T-90/72 tanks: three men operated crew, 125 mm gun, 50 tons weight, powered by 780-1000 hp engine. MBT Arjun firing accuracy is far superior to other two tanks. It has a second generation thermal imager and can engage targets at 2500 meters. Its 1400 hp engine ensures excellent mobility performance. It has capability to fire Laser Homing Anti Tank
(LAHAT) missile from the barrel of the gun. Only T-90 tank has such capability. MBT Arjun has good export potential in African countries due to its superior features vis-a-vis contemporary MBTs.

Committee: The Committee desired to know the reason behind the cost escalation as the original cost of MBT project was Rs. 15.50 crore in 1974 which escalated to Rs. 306 crore in 2005. The Ministry submitted the following reason:

MoD/DRDO: The original scope & requirement of 15 pre-Prod tanks was enhanced. 15 Pre-Production Series (PPS) tanks involving production cost of Rs. 110 cr. is included in the development cost. Accuracy of fire has been enhanced”.

Committee: The Ministry was asked to provide the latest status and import content in MBT Arjun. The Ministry supplied the information as under:

MoD/DRDO: Main Battle Tank Arjun is currently under production at Heavy Vehicles Factory, Avadi under the aegis of Ordnance Factory Board, Users have placed an indent for 124 tanks, out of which the production for the year 2005-06 is expected to be 15 Nos. The entire quantity of 124 Nos. is planned to be produced by March 2008. Power pack, Gunner’s Main Sight and Track are imported items, which work out to 58% of the cost per tank. The import content can be progressively reduced with increased production orders.

Commitee: The Ministry was again asked when the import content of the tank is 58%, how increased indigenous production can reduce import contents. The Ministry was also asked to give price comparison of Arjun Tank with T – 90 Tank. The Ministry replied as under:

MoD/DRDO: Indigenous Gunner’s Main Sight (IGMS) is an integrated gyrostabilized sight consisting of thermal imager, laser range finder, and day sight with inbuilt fire control computer for ballistic computation. This system enables the crew of the tank to engage targets under static and dynamic conditions by day and night with enhanced hit probability. Suitable indigenous power Packs are not available for application in MBT. Indigenous production of power pack through license production is feasible with enhanced production order for MBT Arjun considering the economy of scale. A project for development of indigenous power pack is planned in XI Five Year Plan. There are few vendors in the world who can manufacture gunner’s main sight. DRDO is developing indigenous gunner’s main sight. It is likely to mature and be available beyond 124 tanks. Indigenous track is in advanced stage of development. It will be available for Arjun production tanks beyond 124 Nos. Licensed production of the above items may be feasible with enhanced order quality for Arjun tanks and may result in reduction in import contents. T-90 is a forty-ton class tank. It cannot be compared with MBT Arjun in terms of lethality power and protection. The present cost of MBT Arjun is 16.80 crore. The production cost of T-90 is being ascertained from Ordnance Factory Board.

During oral evidence, on the quality of Arjun Tank, the nonofficial expert informed the Committee:

“……… I am afraid our quality control is very poor I have heard that fives tanks were presented before the media, however, when the media and other people went away, the tanks were put back in the factory because still some quality checks had to be made. The biggest problem in India in respect of defence production is quality control. If China can do it, why can we not do it ?”

MoD/DRDO: Arjun is certified by DGQA. The responsibility of Arjun certification is not with DGQA and still it is with DRDO themselves. These 124 tanks which have been ordered for production by the Army, are produced in the Ordnance Factory. We have given clearance for the Ordnance Factory to do internal QC. This is only quality control. Then, the overall AHSP, that is, Authorised Holder of the Sealed Particulars continues to be with DRDO till certain maturity level is reached in production. Now, DGQA is participating throughout in the inspection. They are not AHSP. They will become AHSP only after DRDO gives the documents to them. Then, the become the ultimate authority for the sealed particulars. Today, sealed particulars are held by DRDO. DGQA is fully involved in inspection.

After we took over the production from the DRDO first year we decided to deliver five tanks. These tanks were delivered last year. This year we are delivering 15 tanks more. Now 14 tanks which we had promised are ready. But while the tanks were handed over to the Army, they went for an extensive user trial. Now in the user trial some minor defects were noticed and these defects are being rectified one-by-one. Now the corrective actions which are required are expected to be completed by January this year. After this corrective action, further trials will take place. Now these are very small defects.

MoD/DRDO: Sir, we have driven them and for over 60,000 kms and fired more than 8,000 rounds. There was no problem. What happens is that in the gun control system, there are power amplifiers which are used in the fire control system. Some temperature settings were not properly done by the parent company. These were tucked inside. As you know, now-a-days, the deck is packaged so densely even to get access to that you have to take out the whole module. So, when this type of settings get disturbed, the rule says that one has to go through the whole qualification process again. There is no change in the design. It is a temperature re-setting which was got done. That has been rectified. Now the tanks would be there by the middle of January.

Commiteee: During oral evidence, on the problems faced by MBT Arjun during trials, the representative of the Ministry apprised the Committee:

MoD/DRDO: In the Arjun, we got into a little bit of a problem because certain temperature-setting switches were not tuned properly. They had to be returned. Yes, this was a problem of the Defence Research Scientists who have not seen that 60 degree setting was not kept at 60, but at 55 which is a normal standard of that company which supplied those parts follow. But we had in the prototype modified that for the 60. so, this had to be done. Once this got done, now we are ready. So some of these productions hiccup if they do take place in the initial phase, they should not dispirit us because whenever we do new products like that, we may face these kinds of problems.

The MBT Arjun started off with a 110 mm gun but at the point of delivery it is already featuring 120 mm gun the state-of-art. We started off a rifled gun for which there was no missile which could be pushed through that. But we have now identified that missile which can be fired through that. Similarly, we have built in certain electronic package as part of our processing, computing power within the tank which will allow us to network into the future.

MoD/DRDO: I want to tell you the roadmap of MBT Arjun as an hon/ Member had asked about this issue. I want to assure you that after these 15 tanks are tried by the Army, the DRDO will be involved only for 15 more tanks. As soon as the Ordnance Factory produces these 30 tanks, the DGQA will take over the responsibility for giving technical clearance – which DRDO is doing today – and the links will be broken. Thereafter, it will be entirely the Ordnance Factory production, and the DGQA will be responsible for its certification. Hopefully, this situation will remain till DRDO does some more research and makes a Mark II of Arjun Tank. If they decide to do that, then, again, the Government will start, but that will be only after producing 124 Tanks and not before that. We will produce 124 Tanks, as the Army has accepted and told us to
produce these Tanks. As of now all the 124 MBT Arjun production tanks is planned with M/s MTU engine integrated with M/s Renk Transmission of Germany as a power pack. The cost of MTU power pack (Engine & Transmission) was Rs. 5.2 crore, as per the last ordered price during mid-nineties. The features of MTU engine are as follows: built on modular concept, 1400 HP with V 90, 10 cylinder, turbocharged and water cooled, made of light weight aluminum alloy with built in safety features, state of art cooling system and Air cleaning system to withstand hot and desert environmental condition. T-90 Tank is fitted with 1000 hp Engine. The cost of T-90 (engine and transmission) is Rs. 2.15 crore as ascertained from Ordnance Factory Board (OFB). It is proposed to take up a project on “Development of 1500 hp Engine” in the XI Five Year Plan. Preliminary design work has already commenced.

Commitee: On the requirement of Tanks by the Army and the present position of orders received from the Army for Arjun Tank and also time schedule to deliver the same, the Ministry replied as under:

MoD/DRDO: Total requirements of Army is about 3500 tanks. Army has placed an indent for manufacture of 124 MBT Arjun. Heavy Vehicle Factory (HVF) 50 Avadi, a constituent unit of Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), has set up exclusively for Main Battle Tank (MBT), Arjun an assembly bay that has just started functioning. Once the activity picks up speed in this facility, HVF is confident to produce 50 Arjun tanks per year from the year 2009 onwards subject to continuous requirement by the user. T-90 tank is also being produced in the same factory under a separate production line.

Final Observations/Recommendations by the Committee: The Committee are perturbed to note that the Government of India accorded clearance for the development of an indigenous Main Battle Tank (MBT) Arjun in May 1974. Even after the lapse of more than 32 years, the nominated agency of DRDO could not execute the mission so far. Inordinate delay has escalated the original cost of MBT project from Rs.15.50 crore in 1974 to Rs. 306 crore in 2005. The Committee are surprised to note that neither the execution agency of DRDO or the certifying agency Director General Quality Assurance (DGQA) are taking responsibility for the inordinate delay and quantity in production of MBT Arjun. Out of 124 ordered for tanks by the users, only 15 tanks have been produced by the Heavy Vehicle Factory, Avadi.

Total requirement of Army is about 3500 Tanks. Army has placed an indent the manufacture 124 MBT Arjun and Arjun assembly has just started functioning. The Factory will produce 50 Arjun Tanks per year from the year 2009 onwards subject to continuous requirement of the user. Users should be empowered to certify the products produced by the ordnance factories. The Committee also like to be apprised how they will comply the demand of the user.

From the foregoing the Committee are very much concerned and strongly feel that over the last 40 years, DRDO has put efforts on R&D and also in manufacturing but still it has not been capable of mastering the technology to fulfil the goal of self reliance designing and developing their own MBT Arjun. It has not been able to deliver the goals of self-reliance as promised by it to the nation. It seems that DRDO can deliver successful results only when it enters into joint venture/collaboration with a reliable partner.

The Ministry of Defence should think seriously as to how to comply Arjun’s requirement in a time bound manner with the help of private Industry – joint ventureship or otherwise. The Committee, therefore, stress that DRDO must concentrate on augmenting in technological output to be ahead with the other developed countries and in order to put India on the world map capable of mastering the technology.

17 thoughts on “Arjun’s Demons To Rest?”

  1. Shiv,
    Please note the dates. They are around the times when you brought out the reports in Indian Express about Arjun.
    Hence you might agree that the articles was based on reports which were either outdated or not presenting the real picture.

    I wonder if you would be bring out a another article in Indian Express which will contradict what you said in the last one?
    hm lets see…

  2. anon: the express DRDO series ran in november actually. additionally, the report on arjun brought out the facts as they stand in the report. do read all the observations!

  3. What facts are those? A bunch of copy pasted nonsense from an earlier report and hyperbole?
    Did you mention anything about all the local content and how the import content is by cost, not by LRU count? Or about the Local FCS? Or about the engine available for local manufacture if numbers ordered were more…

    You ran a gutter campaign..which goes to show your lack of ethics..
    and also how dependent u are on copy pasted sh!t from GOI reports. I am pretty sure that if some placed any component of the Arjun in front of you, even a critical one wouldnt be able to tell it for nuts.

    Get an education man..

  4. I totally agree with anon,

    Shiv Aroor ran a gutter campaign. He has no clue what has been written on the things he posted now from parliament. Aroor just Yaps…

    As good news comes pouring in for Arjun, he tries to show himself as “heckler”, what a face lift he tries to give himself. He just cannot admit that he is a dumb journolist and a pretender.

    he also calls others and frontier india “stubborn apologist”.

    Even the normal forum posters have more knowledge than Shiv arror, atleast they have commonsence. I was scanning Frontier India to understand why this guy bad mouths it.

    Look at this , the news source just blasted the Indian Express and Shiv aroor bull $hit on Arjuns performance
    (just copy and paste that url without break , i will never get this blastid code right in my html life)

    T-90S torsion bar problems persist

    16 May, 2007 (FIDSNS)

    T-90S torsion bar problems were in spotlight again during the “Exercise Ashwamedha” conducted by Indian Army in May 2007.

    Ironically the Indian media had reported that Arjun Tank had torsion bar broken which proved to be wrong as Arjun Tank has Hydro pneumatic suspension which had no problems.

    The press had also reported leakage in the hydro pneumatic suspension system of Arjun Tank which proved to be baseless.

    Another point on cause for concern on the Arjun Tanks’ German MTU 838 Ka-501 engine was also proved wrong. The newspapers failed to give any overheating reports or breakdown reports.

    The price negotiation committee had forced Indian Army to evaluate the T-90S in Indian conditions. Subsequently T-90S was found insuitable for desert conditions, but Indian Army still went ahead and recommended the purchase of T-90S.

    A “apologist” meand a person who writes on basis of an idea or hunch.

    This site is full of details that the normal sources do not have. I even got some of its news verified by my friends working in DRDO. They say the specs are the same. They even told me that this

    and this

    are registered sources in DESIDOCS

    I even wrote to the owner. He is a very polite and knowledgeble chap.

    I cannot stand stupid people bad mouthing the good ones. I hate Shiv Aroor, Rajat pandit, and other blastid journos. All freakin lifafa’s.

  5. Shiv,
    I have disagree with your observation that there was no openess on the part of DRDO on these programs.
    The “so called openess” displayed within these commitee reports are known by Indian defense enthu’s for a long time.

    You would probably agree with me that “a tank which cannot shoot straight” in November 2006 would not have been “MBT Arjun firing accuracy is far superior to other two tanks” in May 2007,if your November report was true.

    How do you suppose all the Arjun supporter got their information regarding the issues,if DRDO was not open about it’s programs?
    These people spoke with Army persons they know,visited events like AI and Defence Expo and spoke with DRDO people to get the latest.
    Something which would have been your responsibilities as a reporter!

    All you did was to speak to some retired army guys and got hold of some older commitee reports and reprinted them!
    It is very sad.I would say the amount of information that DRDO gives out about it’s programs are far higher than what Pakistan or China declares.This is one of the reason why our Indian Defence reporters so easily get to point fingers at DRDO.It gives out details on failures,something our great neighbours never face. Failures!

    I would say DRDO kept it’s door open, you were looking at the other side!


  6. Shiv,
    We are still waiting for your report on the recent excerises involving Arjun. Do you plan to bring them out?

  7. Sorry Shiv, I didn’t want to say this but you have lost credibility here. After the torsion bar incident I thought you will atleast have the decency to stop beating up on the Arjun for a change. If you were neutral in your reporting, accept this challenge, write about the problems on T-90S.

    But I probably already know the answer to that challenge don’t I?

  8. Now the question arises…. why couldn’t you have shown the same kind of objectivity in your ‘investigation’ last year. You not only whitewashed the Army’s faults, but also made it seem like the Arjun was worth nothing, and would struggle to hold up against even the T-55s.

    Lets hope you show better judgement on the ATV series. And please try hard not to make any mistakes like saying that the ATV doesn’t have helicopter carrying ability (like your torsion bar googly)…

    OTOH, I enjoyed reading your piece on the Canberra. Probably your forte is Military history, and you should stick to that.

  9. What a type of campaign you people have carried out last year ? Alas!

    I am not asking not to be critic. But while doing this and selling your stories to the nation, don’t you have the responsbility of giving correct details to the public of India ? (Though this responsibility lies only if you are a Indian, Hope, you are an Indian!)

    I can figure it out on who’s promptings these things were carried out.

    Like you called DRDO as “Delyed Research and Derailed organization”, can you do the samething to Indian Army or other Armed services ? How cheap you people became?
    Don’t you people know that like Armed Services, DRDO too serves the nation? Don’t they battling against innumberable odds like technology denials, sanctions, funds non-availability, vested interests and sometimes people like you to deliver the products. They are not only making the Indian Armed forces better equipped but also saving tax-payer’s money, creating self sufficiency and improving the Indian industry and economy. What a thankless people you & others have became?

    I am not expecting you to be an apologist, alteast some semblance of respect to those people ?

    You throwed free flowing advices to DRDO like how it should behave like DARPA etc. Did you ever seen or reported the other side of the story on how industries played a role in that ?

    you called it as “..Deralied organiation” What a childish act?

    Fine, I’m happy that atleast you published the commitee’s findings about Arjun.

    Now, don’t you have the respobility to the tell the nation on what happened to T-90S tanks? why army going for 1000 more tanks while still there are problems reported ?

    What is your friend, Col. Ajai Shukla, saying on Arjun ?

  10. Hi. The following news report is from Frontier-India.

    In my view, technical details alone will “silence” the largely non-technical, purposefully anti-DRDO and unfairly biased journalists like Rajat Pandit, Vivek Raghuvanshi and Rahul Bedi.

    Indigenous sensor on Arjun NBC

    18 May, 2007 (FIDSNS)

    The Arjun MBT NBC filtration system has been integrated with roentgenometer cum flash sensor alongwith a chemical sensor. These products have been developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). A roentgenometer is used to measure of dose rates recieved by the crew of Arjun Tank or other armoured vehicles which have similar systems in Indian Army. It has energy compensated GM tube sensor (80 keV to 1.3 MeV) with an analog display. It meets all JSS 55555-L 3 test series specifications. It displays 0 to 1000 R/h in 4 ranges with an accuracy of plus or minus 2%. It weighs approximately 2.5Kg and is powered by 18-32 V DC tank batteries.

    The gamma flash sensor usses silicon PIN photodiode with a trigger level of 4 R/s (+2/-1) with a response time of less than 100 miliseconds and hold time of more than 100 miliseconds.

    The shielding efficacy of Arjun MBT against INR and fallout radiation in nuclear envirinment and high strength radioactive sources has been determined using a pocket dosimeter. Pocket dosimeter has been developed by DRDO too.

    A total protection factors of MBT Arjun have been determined by creating a nuclear field in the environment.

    Successful completion of the sensor task in MBT Arjun has prompted Indian Army to request DRDO to integrate the system in its other armoured vehicles.

    Thank you.

  11. Abhiman,
    Do you think this will close the mouth of our wonderful Indian defence journal?

    Wait for few days and you will get a report:
    “Although DRDO claims to have produced NBC,these system has not been tested tot the required level.This conclsion can be derived from the fact that India has not conducted overground nuclear test and tested the NBC system” !

    You just wait 😉

  12. You guys know why Shiv is not posting Arjun performance in Ashwamsdha? Read this:

    [link=] Link[/link]

    Indian Army finds no major defects with Arjun Tank during Ex Ashvamegh

    19 May, 2007, (FIDSNS)

    Excercise Ashvamegh results are out. Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has now formal results of the Arjun MBT performance. Frontier India Defence and Strategic News Service (FIDSNS) has a copy Army’s report on Arjun Tank as a user feedback.

    The report states that, Indian Army had Seven Arjun Tanks during Excercise Ashvamegh ,i.e, 5 LSP’s (limited series) and 2 PPS (pre production). Six Arjun Tanks participated in the excercise. The cumulative distance travelled by Arjun Tank in the excercise is 180 kilometers. All the Tanks had (inner) air getting dirty faster remark and one PPS tank had maintainence related minor issue of engine oil leak and end connector getting loose.

    Indian Army observations as recorded in the document

    a) No major problems faced during Ex-Ashvamegh.
    b) No other defects found during Ex-Ashvamegh.

    On asked about the Arjuns Tanks minor issues that croped up during Ex Ashvamegh , FIDSNS was told that the LSP’s and PPS’s had run a cumulative distance of 1000 kms before participating in Ex Ashvamegh with normal maintainence.

  13. Shiv,
    So where is the report on Arjun’s performance on Ashwamedh,you promised weeks back?
    Some one was very energetic about asking for accountability on the part of DRDO.
    Wonder whose time is to be accountible now.

  14. anon: the Army’s report isn’t finished yet. it’s still under process and will be at army HQ in four-five days. so as soon as i get it, it’ll be here.

  15. So what was JJ Singh talking about when he said that the results would be out in 5 days (that was just after the exercises).

    Was it the preliminary results of which side won and which lost??? If so, how come there hasn’t been any press conference about the exercise yet??

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