New Delhi, July 13 (ANI): Allaying fears of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) scientists that the production of the Arjun main battle tank will be stopped, the government has decided to continue with its manufacture, and added that a second regiment of the indigenously built combat vehicle will be raised soon.
The Army had made it clear that it would buy no more than the 124 Arjun tanks that it has contracted for because it was unhappy with the tank on various counts.
A senior Defence Ministry official said: "At present, the Army has been supplied with one regiment of 45 Arjun tanks. Another 77 tanks will be supplied by March 2010. Also, the apprehension of the scientists has been allayed and the production of the tank will continue."
The official also added that the government is planning to raise a second regiment of Arjun tanks. The first regiment of the combat vehicle will become fully operational in October this year.
The Arjun tank is meant to supplement and eventually replace the Soviet-era T-72 and was originally meant to be a 40-tonne tank with a 105 mm gun. It has now grown to a 50-tonne tank with a 120 mm gun.
DRDO is of the view that the MBT Arjun is strategically a very competent armoured vehicle, having an excellent weight to power ratio, good mobility and very accurate firepower, which conform to the requirements laid down by the Army.
It compares excellently with all the heavy class of tanks available across the world and can be effectively deployed in most of the border areas of our country. The Army had cleared the MBT Arjun for production and placed an indent on March 30, 2000 for the manufacture of 124 tanks by 2009 for two regiments.
The DRDO has been demanding comparative trials of the Arjun with the T-90 tanks, which is being seen as an effort to meet criticism against the indigenous combat vehicle. Around 500 tanks would need to be manufactured to make the project successful.
"Comparative trials will take place with the Russian-made T-90 tanks in October-November," the Defence Ministry official said.
The trials could deliver the final verdict on the combat vehicle, which took 35 years of research in self-reliance by dedicated Indian scientists against all odds, costing over Rs. 300 crore.
The Army wanted a full regiment of 45 tanks, which was delivered in May, for conversion training and field practice for a period of three months before going for trials. By Praful Kumar Singh (ANI)