As per the 14th parliamentary report of 2006 – 2007, Arjun Tank Mark – II production will be taken up after the successful completion of the first order of 124 Arjun tanks order.
The ministry of defence informed the parliamentary committee that ” I want to tell you the roadmap of MBT Arjun as an hon/ Member had asked about this issue. I want to assure you that after these 15 tanks are tried by the Army, the DRDO will be involved only for 15 more tanks. As soon as the Ordnance Factory produces these 30 tanks, the DGQA will take over the responsibility for giving technical clearance – which DRDO is doing today – and the links will be broken. Thereafter, it will be entirely the Ordnance Factory production, and the DGQA will be responsible for its certification. Hopefully, this situation will remain till DRDO does some more research and makes a Mark II of Arjun Tank. If they decide to do that, then, again, the Government will start, but that will be only after producing 124 Tanks and not before that. We will produce 124 Tanks, as the Army has accepted and told us to produce these Tanks.
The representative of the Ministry expressed “Whether it is MBT Arjun, whether it is going to be Akash missile or whether is LCA, for everyone of these projects, I am prepared to take the blame organizationally for the delay due to certain inability to assess in entirety all the technological complexities involved. But I also wish to assure this Committee that at the point of introduction it has a useful life appropriate to the product of this kind and the Services have appreciated this”.
The Ministry was asked to give comparative table of production cost, features and capability of Arjun Tank with original and upgraded T-90 and T-72 Tank. The Ministry replied ” “MBT Arjun is a 60 tonne class battle tank with state of the art optro-electronic power-packed control system, weapon management system and high performance suspension. It is a product unique in its class specifically configured for Indian Army requirement. Unlike T-90 tank which was primarily built for Russian Armed Forces, adapted by Indian Army for certain specific roles, this T-90 is a 50 tonne class vehicle which does not have some of the advanced features of MBT Arjun. But it is an improved system over T-72 tank. A price comparison between the two tanks, therefore, will not be in order. However, it is important to know that MBT Arjun had a cost of Rs 17.20 crore per system from the production line and is Rs 6-8 crore cheaper than its contemporary system in the west. It is understood that T-90 tank is costing approximately Rs. 12 crore and is yet to be indigenised. MBT Arjun firing accuracy is far superior to other two tanks. It has a second generation thermal imager and can engage targets at 2500 meters. Its 1400 hp engine ensures excellent mobility performance. It has capability to fire (Laser Homing Anti Tank) LAHAT missile from the barrel of the gun. Only T-90 tank has such capability. MBT Arjun has good export potential in African countries due to its superior features vis-a-vis contemporary MBTs”
The Ministry was asked to provide the latest status and import content in MBT Arjun. The Ministry supplied the information ” “Main Battle Tank Arjun is currently under production at Heavy Vehicles Factory, Avadi under the aegis of Ordnance Factory Board,Users have placed an indent for 124 tanks, out of which the production for the year 2005-06 is expected to be 15 Nos. The entire quantity of 124 Nos. is planned to be produced by March 2008. Power pack, Gunner’s Main Sight and Track are imported items, which work out to 58% of the cost per tank. The import content can be progressively reduced with increased production orders”.
The Ministry was again asked when the import content of the tank is 58%, how increased indigenous production can reduce import contents. The Ministry was also asked to give price comparison of Arjun Tank with T-90 Tank. The ministry replied “Indigenous Gunner’s Main Sight (IGMS) is an integrated gyrostabilized sight consisting of thermal imager, laser range finder, and day sight with inbuilt fire control computer for ballistic computation. This system enables the crew of the tank to engage targets under static and dynamic conditions by day and night with enhanced hit probability. Suitable indigenous power Packs are not available for application in MBT. Indigenous production of power pack through license production is feasible with enhanced production order for MBT Arjun considering the economy of scale. A project for development of indigenous power pack is planned in XI Five Year Plan. There are few vendors in the world who can manufacture gunner’s main sight. DRDO is developing indigenous gunner’s main sight. It is likely to mature and be available beyond 124 tanks. Indigenous track is in advanced stage of development. It will be available for Arjun production tanks beyond 124 Nos. Licensed production of the above items may be feasible with enhanced order quality for Arjun tanks and may result in reduction in import contents. T-90 is a forty-ton class tank. It cannot be compared with MBT Arjun in terms of lethality power and protection. The present cost of MBT Arjun is 16.80 crore. The production cost of T-90 is being ascertained from Ordnance Factory Board.”
On the certification of MBT Arjun, the representative of the Ministry informed the Committee “…….. Arjun is certified by DGQA. The responsibility of Arjun certification is not with DGQA and still it is with DRDO themselves”.
“These 124 tanks which have been ordered for production by the Army, are produced in the Ordnance Factory. We have given clearance for the Ordnance Factory to do internal QC. This is only quality control. Then, the overall AHSP, that is, Authorised Holder of the Sealed Particulars continues to be with DRDO till certain maturity level is reached in production. Now, DGQA is participating throughout in the inspection. They are not AHSP. They will become AHSP only after DRDO gives the documents to them. Then, the become the ultimate authority for the sealed particulars. Today, sealed particulars are held by DRDO. DGQA is fully involved in inspection”.
On the production of MBT Arjun, the representative of the Ministry informed the Committee ““After we took over the production from the DRDO first year we decided to deliver five tanks. These tanks were delivered last year. This year we are delivering 15 tanks more. Now 14 tanks which we had promised are ready. But while the tanks were handed over to the Army, they went for an extensive user trial. Now in the user trial some minor defects were noticed and these defects are being rectified one-by-one. Now the corrective actions which are required are expected to be completed by January this (2007) year.After this corrective action, further trials will take place. Now these are very small defects”.
On the status of MBT Arjun, the representative of the Ministry informed the Committee “………….The MBT Arjun started off with a 110 mm gun but at the point of delivery it is already featuring 120 mm gun the state of-art. We started off a rifled gun for which there was no missile which could be pushed through that. But we have now identified that missile which can be fired through that. Similarly, we have built in certain electronic package as part of our processing, computing power within the tank which will allow us to network into the future.”
On the requirement of Tanks by the Army and the present position of orders received from the Army for Arjun Tank and also time schedule to deliver the same, the Ministry replied “Total requirements of Army is about 3500 tanks. Army has placed an indent for manufacture of 124 MBT Arjun. Heavy Vehicle Factory (HVF) Avadi, a constituent unit of Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), has set up exclusively for Main Battle Tank (MBT), Arjun an assembly bay that has just started functioning. Once the activity picks up speed in this facility, HVF is confident to produce 50 Arjun tanks per year from the year 2009 onwards subject to continuous requirement by the user. T-90 tank is also being produced in the same factory under a separate production line.”