Will Atmanirbhar Bharat revive the fortunes of the Indian Army’s Main Battle Tank Arjun

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has recently released its Import Embargo list as part of its Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative. Efforts are on to ensure that the Indian Armed Forces cut down their dependency on imported platforms, and help use the platforms manufactured locally. The changing dynamics of Mountain warfare, more specifically in respect of India China Line of Control kind of terrain with a heady mix of mountains and open hard track terrain, “requires a rethink on our operational philosophy for deployment of mechanised forces with tailor-made equipment to suit our requirements” says an Indian Army veteran.

The debate on indigenous production in the defence sector to cut down import dependency has been going on. There has been some positive outcomes including the classical case of Main Battle Tank `Arjun’.

It was in 1996 that the Indian government decided to mass-produce the tank at the Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF) in Avadi, Chennai. Order for 124 Arjun tanks (MK I) was placed in the year 2000. India thus joined the select group of 10 countries worldwide that have designed and developed their own Main Battle Tank. The other countries that have designed and developed their own MBT are the UK, France, Germany, USA, Israel, South Korea, Russia, Japan and China

In spite of a proven, indigenous MBT and DRDO having created capabilities within the country for the fabrication of Hull and Turret for accelerated deliveries, the Cabinet Committee on Security in 2019 approved the procurement of 464 Russian made T-90MS main battle tanks in a Rs 13,400 Cr deal.

Interestingly, as per the result of the comparative trials held between the Arjun MK I and T 90 tank in 2010, the Arjun outperformed the T 90 on several parameters including accuracy and consistency of firepower, mobility and agility. The Arjun also boasts of a superior power to weight ratio, which is necessary for combat on the move.

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