Viv S wrote:
The most illuminating part of that interview was the penetration figures of the FSAPDS described. And I have to confess I was rather disappointed with what I learned.
According to Dr. Saraswat, the existing type in service is graded as 400mm RHAe, units currently in production are graded 500mm RHAe and a type with a penetration of 600mm of RHA is currently in development. In contrast the original M829 DU round introduced in 1984 had a RHAe penetration of 500-550mm (540mm at 2km acc. to Jane's). The M829A3 and the German DM63 are both believed to have a RHAe figures well in excess of 750mm. Necessary, considering the proliferation of heavy ERA on the later Soviet/Russian models.
(^^ I sincerely hope I'm wrong and/or misinformed)
In the regional context, while information about the ERA packages on the Pakistani Al-Khalid and T-80UD tanks, is sketchy, one should probably err on the safer side. I'm surprised a DU penetrator instead of the WHA model in service, has not been opted for - unlike the Germans we don't have any particular aversion to nuclear products nor are we striving for export driven production like the Russians.
Given the see-sawing in the MoD/IA between domestic production and importing state-of-the-art, its not altogether surprising that the morass in decision making has led to a shortfall in ammunition reserves. I admit I wouldn't be altogether too disappointed if we were to settle for the proven L55-DM63/M829 (or derivatives thereof) on the Arjun Mk3/FMBT as so many other countries are doing. If not, I hope DRDO and the IA are approaching the issue with the resolve similar to the NATO during the Cold War to ensure Indian tankers never see their rounds pinging off enemy armor.
VivS, why do you think we are spending a huge bomb on the otherwise unecessary Refleks rounds, but for the fact round development in the T-90/T-72 is already hitting practical limits?
Furthermore, take the penetration figures for all those M829 etc series rounds with a grain of salt. The issue is not of penetration numbers against RHae alone, but whether the dart maintains some level of efficacy against complex, multi-layer composite, and that too protected by ERA. So a round with "lesser" absolute penetration numbers could still be equivalent to another with more numbers.
Even so, a round designed for the legacy T-90/T-72 autoloader will have length limitations - you are expecting a shorter dart to do as well as a longer dart, and in rough terms, the longer a KE round is, the better. Can't come up with more explosive power in the propellant, the gun won't stand for it.
Ok, with that said - what Saraswat was referring to was the classic rubbish that is Indian procurement. The first round he mentioned was the DRDO-OFB MK1 125mm round. The OFB messed that up by mixing and matching russian propellant (which leaked) and the round got a bad rep. Even so, production was restarted once problems were fixed and many delivered. But by then the Army got its hands on an Israeli round with better performance and thought their issues were over as OFB would license make it. In reality, OFB never quite got around to it & had trouble even assembling the Israeli rounds with screwdriver tech (the FSAPDS "shots" came from Israel, unlike the DRDO ones, and were merely machined in India). The IMI guys got into trouble BTW with the CBI over allegations many IMI deals were struck with Ghosh who is under investigation for corruption charges. Even in Europe, production of Israeli 125mm rounds has not really taken off (which is where this round first appeared) and Rheinmetall/German munition makers have stepped in successfully, supplanting the Israelis. In the meanwhile, the DRDO had its own MK2 FSAPDS round ready (per the interview above it was at the Israeli rounds level) but the Army wanted something better, so last year a bunch of rounds were ordered, at the improved level, to be put through AUCRT.
So, the basic challenge with the T-90/T-72s will remain. The huge order of the otherwise useless Refleks (cant use it against bunkers or any multipurpose use, its just too expensive) is to somehow overcome the fact that with more ERA, these rounds are going to be challenged in the future by heavier and heavier tanks.