As I mentioned in an earlier post,the IDR-Janes March 2010 issue, quoted Gen.Deepak Kapoor extensively on the inability of Indian tanks to fight at night,when Chinese (100%) and Paki (89%) tanks could.Other than the T-90s,the 1800 T-72M1s could not,which were to be upgraded under Project Rhino (programme stalled) at a cost of $1.1m.The TISAS thermal imaging sights which would give the tank night fighting capabilites were being acquired form Israel's EL-OP at a cost of $120,000 each (300+ 300 being acquired).Even this upgrade "would take a few years".Therefore,the IA cannot carry out in practice its much touted "Cold Strike" doctrine according to many Indian experts.This might explain why extra T-90s,which supposedly can fight at night are being acquired,Lt.Gen.VK Kapoor (retd.),former armoured corps commander, was quoted as saying that the IA lacked "vision" and the MOD was staffed with "generalists" who could not comprehend the technical challenges in procurement.The IA and MOD could not work together constructively which was why the IA's MBTs were handicapped and :nightblind".There was no mention about Arjun in the article.Arjun has taken 25+ years to fructify and its slow development has clearly gvien the IA no option but to import tanks (T-90s) ,especially when pak obtained T-80UDs from Ukraine.We have to accept this past history and current conundrum.
So how do we rectify matters for the current and future requirements of the IA? Arjun has now proven itself and it would be prudent to see numbers brought upto at least 500,as some have said in order that the HVF/DRDO recover their investment cost and be a shot in the arm for indigenisation.Clearly,the Arjun can fight on may fronts on our borders,even if logistics of transporting it to some areas might prove v.difficult.In the Himalayan heights,the new Russian light tanks with a 125mm main gun would be ideal as its small size enables it to be carried by military aircraft,easier than T-72s which have the same gun.We have also yet to replace the PT-76 whichs erved us so well in '71 in B'Desh.We have also forgotten that we need larger numbers of troops for fighting in the littorals (a fledgling Marine Corps),as our island territories,the Maldives,Mauritius,Sri Lanka,and even Burma and the Paki coast could be future spheres of operations launched form the sea.These tanks being lighter yet packing a powerful punch could be more easily carried by our amphibious forces,LHPDs/LPDs,LSTs and LCTs.BY producing more Arjuns we can reduce the number of T-72s to be upgraded If production can be achieved within a tight timeframe and if we have sufficient numbers of tanks to counter both Pak and China and meet any other IOR challenges.At the same time,since several IA generals have gone on recod that Arjun MK-1 is NOT the tank for the future,thanks to its old design,then a call for futuristic tank designs must be made v.soon so that the tempo of tank design and manufacture in India and with foreign JVs,is not halted.
The IA now has to get realistic and determine how many T-90s are needed and in what capability,how many T-72s to be upgraded and how many Arjuns to order and the timeframe in which they must be produced.At the moment,the DRDO/HVF have to uograde T-72s,asemble/build new T-90s and produce Arjuns.It is a v.tall order.Why "Tank-X" is being pursued when the IA supposedly vehemently does not want it is a mystery.It is here that the divide between our DPSUs and services is clearly seen.Ultimately the services are going to be the end users and fight with the weaponry on hand.As far as possible it should be to their specs and satisfaction.The MOD should ensure that there is "collaboration" and not confrontation" between the DRDO/DPSUs and the services.The IN's warship designs ,even if production is slow,is a shining example of how to achieve the goal of indigenisation.
For the future,the IA/DRDO and any other international tank manufacturer,as is being done with the 5th-gen fighter,collaborate in designing and delivering an FMBT which will serve us from around 2020 in full production.This would be the fastest and most cost-effective way forward,as if we examine the amount of "Indigenous" components in Arjun itself,we cans ee that many key critical components are of foreign origin.We cannot take another 25+ years in dsigning and producing soley by ourselves an FMBT.
Last edited by Philip
on 02 May 2010 11:36, edited 1 time in total.