Millennium Post

Mark II to be a world winner: DRDO

The advanced Mark II version of the indigenously built, Arjun Main Battle Tank [MBT], is undergoing ‘development trials’ since last month in the presence of representatives of the user agency, the army. ‘The current phase of trials is expected to continue till September 2012,’ a source in the Defence Research and Development Organisation [DRDO] said.

Though the senior levels of the army have decided to hold back their counsel till the end of the trials, the DRDO claims that the army sought 89 changes upon the Mark I model, and all 89 of them have been incorporated in the final version of the Mark II. ‘We have done that in record two years,’ a source said. The changes include 19 improvements, which are major. For example, the main gun can now launch missiles; the tank commander in Mark I just had a viewer which gave a panoramic view of the battle-field, now night vision capability to the commander’s viewer. That means the nigh blindness will no longer be a problem either for the gunner [he had night vision even in Mark I] or the commander. The DRDO source claimed that Mark II will be capable of performing day and night in ‘hunt and kill mode’.

Advanced explosive reactive armour [ERA] has been incorporated for additional protection for the tank and its crew. Mine ploughs have also been installed. Added to this, is the remote firing capability with 360 degree coverage for the Air Defence weapon.

Experts say that there are three main elements that constitute the attributes of a MBT: armour, firepower and maneuverability. To attain optimal level in one element is to give in to sub-optimality in another. For example, the German tank Leopard has heavy armour but is not all that maneuverable. The American Abrams is focused on fire-power. The Israeli Merkava IV has fast maneuverability.

The DRDO sources say that all the protection army wanted for survivability, have made the Mark II heavy, but its powerful engine provides it enough maneuverability. Also, a unique feature of the tank is that it can pivot around 360 degrees, while firing its main gun.

The sources however do not want to indulge in any discussion about the specifications of the tank. But they claim, ‘It is noteworthy that these 89 changes, make Arjun Mark II among the best tanks in the world in its class.’
Pinaki Bhattacharya

Pinaki Bhattacharya

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