Army yet to approve upgraded Arjun Mark-1A: All you need to know about India's most powerful desi tank

Arjun Mark-1A: MBT


  • The upgraded Arjun Mark-1A MBT has been hailed by many as India's answer to the Russian-origin T-90S 'Bhishma' tanks that currently make up the majority of India's armoured vehicle regiments.
  • Weighing 68 tonnes, the Mark 1-A features a 120mm main gun and is an upgraded version of the original Arjun version.
  • The Mark 1-A is also equipped with thermobaric and penetration-cum-blast ammunition, apart from the conventional fin stabilised armour-piercing discarding sabot and high explosive squash head ammunition.
  • The Mark 1-A is also equipped with thermobaric and penetration-cum-blast ammunition, apart from the conventional fin stabilised armour-piercing discarding sabot and high explosive squash head ammunition.
  • Apart from remaining in the testing phases for over 30 years before the first two tanks regiments were inducted into the Army, the basic Arjun MBT has been criticised for its weight, low serviceability and logistical issues.

The Indian Army continues to stall on approving the indigenously-developed Arjun Mark-1A main-battle tank. Last week, the latest capabilities of the tank were put on display for senior Army officials including Director-General Armoured Corps Lt Gen MJS Kahlon Bakshi, where the tanks' remote-controlled weapon system was demonstrated among other upgrades. 


As per some reports, the Indian Army is preparing to raise two regiments of the tank to be inducted into the Army in the coming months. Currently, there are 124 Arjun tanks commissioned by the Army all of which are, reportedly, deployed along the western sector. 


The upgraded Arjun Mark-1A MBT has been hailed by many as India's answer to the Russian-origin T-90S 'Bhishma' tanks that currently make up the majority of India's armoured vehicle regiments. 


However, with an order worth Rs 20,000 crore placed by the Indian Army in November 2019 for the production of 464 T-90S tanks. to add the existing 1,193 tanks already in operation, it does appear that the Army is not fully prepared to go 'aatmanirbhar' with the Arjun Mark-1A just yet. 


Features of the Arjun Mark 1-A


Weighing 68 tonnes, the Mark 1-A features a 120mm main gun and is an upgraded version of the original Arjun version. The improvements made to the tank based on the Army recommendations are expected to have turned it into the nation's most potent indigenously-developed, self-protective tank. 

Compared to its predecessor, the Mark 1-A includes an improved gunner sight, fitted with automated target tracking capabilities. This enables the tank's crew to identify and track moving targets automatically and attack them even when the MBT is mobile. 

The Arjun MK-1A's gun is also, reportedly, operated using a computerised integrated fire control allowing high first-round kill capability. It also integrates day-and-night stabilised sights. The Mark 1-A is also equipped with thermobaric and penetration-cum-blast ammunition, apart from the conventional fin stabilised armour-piercing discarding sabot and high explosive squash head ammunition. 

Controversy over the Arjun project


The Arjun MBT tank has been the subject of significant criticism since the DRDO first initiated the project in the mid-1970s. Apart from remaining in the testing phases for over 30 years before the first two tanks regiments were inducted into the Army, the basic Arjun MBT has been criticised for its weight, low serviceability and logistical issues.

 What's more, a 2016 report from the Comptroller and Auditor General noted that the Arjun tanks have not been operational since 2013 owing to a lack of spare parts. However, in 2017, the DRDO announced that it had imported spare parts to repair the faults that had, reportedly, sidelined 75 per cent of country's Arjun tanks. 

Since 2017, the DRDO has been making concerted efforts to address the deficiencies of the tank and build it up to the Indian Army specifications. The latest statement from the DRDO noted that “all maintenance, spares and other issues” have been resolved for the first 124 tanks inducted into the Indian Army with 14 major and 58 improvements carried out on the Mark-1A tanks. 

However, the Indian Army has maintained that the tank remains a work in progress despite admitting that “substantive issues have been addressed.”



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