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Pakistan is buying new T-90 tanks: India has formidable MBT Arjun

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New Delhi, Jan 3: Pakistan is planning to buy T-90 battle tanks from Russia and this stirred up some concerns in India. Pakistan Army's move to enhance its armoured corps comes at a time when the Line of Actual control in Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed growing hostilities in the last one year.

Battle tanks can be deadly war machines in certain kinds of terrains. A division of tanks can lend a powerful support to the infantry and crush the enemy defences when used in right conditions and terrain.

MBT Arjun

In India's context, tank divisions are mostly used in borders areas of Rajasthan where desert poses a major challenge for other equipments to be moved into position in the event of war. Tanks are used both for offensive and defensive maneuvers of the army.

Most of India's tank fleet comprises of Russian made T-90s which is a modern variation of the T-72B and incorporates many features found on the T-80U. The T-90M Bhishma is a vehicle tailored for Indian service, improving upon the T-90S, and developed with assistance from Russia and France. The tanks are equipped with the French Thales-built Catherine-FC thermal sights, and utilise Russian Kontakt-5 K-5 explosive reactive armoured plates.

Our focus here is on ingenuously made Main Battle Tank Arjun. It is a state-of-the-art tank with superior firepower, high mobility, and excellent protection. The superior armour defeating capability of the ingenuously developed Fin Stabilized Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot (FSAPDS) ammunition and 120 mm caliber rifled gun give MBT ARJUN an edge over contemporary world tanks. A computer-controlled integrated fire control system incorporating day-cum-night stabilized sighting system guarantees a very high first round hit probability and reduced reaction time to bring effective fire on targets.

[Can MBT Arjun be called 'truly' indigenous?]

The Arjun entered service with the Indian Army in 2004. The tanks were first inducted into the 43 Armoured Regiment, Indian Army Armoured Corps while the latest induction has been into the 75 Armoured Regiment on 12 March 2011.

The reason why the Indian Army relies heavily on T-90s is because of considerable delays and other problems in Arjun's development from the 1990s to the 2000s. This prompted the Indian Army to order T-90 tanks from Russia to meet requirements that the Arjun had been expected to fulfill. In March and April 2010, comparative trials on the maneuverability of the Arjun MBT and the Russian T-90 tank in Rajasthan deserts resulted in a better performance from the Arjun tank.

MBT Arjun vs T-90:

If we compare specifications of Arjun and T-90, then we can see that Arjun is far more heavier than T-90. But, at the same time, Arjun has a 1400 hp engine as compared to 950 hp engine of T-90, which explains why the top speed of Arjun is 72 km/h, whereas that of T-90 is 60 km/h. Arjun requires a crew of four to operate - commander, gunner, loader and driver. T-90 needs a crew of three to operate. It was also reported that T-90s have had performance issues in extremely hot weather.

Recent comments from Army sources indicate that the Russian T-90S will form the mainstay of its future force, despite that tank's performance issues in hot weather. Although a formidable tank, Arjun (the original version) has had issues. The Arjun faced persistent problems of overheating and that tank's main subsystems, the fire control system (FCS), the suspension system, integrated gunner's main sight, which includes a thermal imager and laser range-finder, which were rendered erratic and useless by the abnormally high peak internal temperature of beyond 55 °C in India.

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