An Indian Army battle tank Arjun demolishes an enemy bunker during Indian Army Exercise Sudarshan Shakti in Barmer distrcit in Rajasthan on December 5, 2011.Exercise Sudarshan Shakti displayed the maneuver by mechanised forces and all other components on air and land battle concept. AFP PHOTO / Sam PANTHAKY (Photo credit should read SAM PANTHAKY/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW DELHI — Most of India's homemade Arjun Mark-1 battle tank fleet has been grounded because of technical snags and lack of imported components, an Indian Army official said.
"Nearly 75 percent of the 124 numbers of tanks with the Army are grounded," the official added.
The Army has inducted 124 Arjun Mark-1 tanks developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and produced by state-owned Heavy Vehicles Factory at Avadi in southern India. Nearly 55 percent of the value of the tank Arjun Mark-1 tank is imported components and those there the supplies have dried up, the official said.
The Indian Army official did not give details of the technical snags but said there are more than added there over 90 issues. technical snags.
"The problems in the Arjun tank are mainly confined to its transmission system, targeting and thermal sights," the official added.
"There are a number of issues related to functionality due to imported components, which seem to be bugging the Arjun Mark-1 fleet for some time now. The technical snags have reportedly led to much of the fleet remaining non operational, creating a void in the tank strength of the Indian Army," said Rahul Bhonsle, a (cq) , retired Indian Army brigadier general and defense analyst.
The Indian Army was forced to buy the 124 Arjuns Mark -1 tanks by DRDO so that the Avadi factory would remain functional, the official said. He added that the Arjun Mark-1 has still not been cleared by the Indian Army for combat because at 62 tons it is too heavy.
Meantime, DRDO has developed the Arjun Mark-2 version, tank which has received satisfactory marks from results by the Indian Army in comparison trials with the Russian T-90 main battle tank. The Mark-2 tank weighs less than 50 tons and has 93 improvements over the Arjun Mark-1, and includes nearly 60 percent tank with an indigenous components, of nearly 60 percent, claimed a DRDO official.
The Indian Army has cleared an of 118 numbers of Mark-2 tanks.
"If the experience gained from Mark-1 is utilized fully there should be lesser technical problems with Mark-2 at present though reports of trials do not suggest the same," Bhonsle said.
The indigenous Arjun tank project began in 1974, and was originally aimed to replace Russian T-54 tanks, which have been retired, and more than 1,600 Russian T-72 tanks still in operation.
The Army awarded Palantir Technologies and Raytheon Technologies $36 million each to turn their TITAN designs into prototypes, and the service plans to choose a single provider at the end of the 14-month phase.