M A I N   N E W S

Different battle arenas for twin tanks
Arjun and Bhishma to coexist
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 27
Unlike the epic Mahabharata, the Indian Army’s lead tanks named after legendary warriors ‘Arjun’ and ‘Bhishma’ will coexist and will be deployed in different battle arenas in the future. At present, a “deployment” trials are being conducted in the deserts of Rajasthan, where 14 of the home-grown Arjun tanks face the Russian origin T-90 - christened Bhishma - by the Indian Army.

The Indian Army is likely to order more Arjun tanks rather than depend entirely on the Russian tanks, sources said. The chief of the Defence Research and Development Organisation, Dr VK Saraswat, says: “We are expecting a repeat order of the Arjun tanks in the near future”.

Separately, sources said two more regiments - some 124 tanks - of the Arjun series are likely to be inducted. An announcement is likely after the “deployment” trials are over. Saraswat clarified the comparative evaluation referred to in media reports was nothing but a trial of the tank’s role. “It is a process to identify the role the tank will play and will not be comparative between the two tanks,” he added.

The Indian Army had ordered two regiments of the Arjun but had then showed reluctance to accept more. The trials will show the true picture. Commanders of the Indian Army, who in the past have been critical of the Arjun, have slowly come around and now say that the two tanks are of different classes and cannot be compared with each other.

The Arjun at 58.5-tonne is much heavier than the 46.5 tonne T-90. But with more powerful engines the Arjun moves faster than the T-90. It is ideal for deployment in the arid Rajasthan-Gujarat sector facing Pakistan.

The Arjun has better and latest systems on board. It has better transmission system than the T-90, accurate firepower while on the move. The Arjun has better thermal imaging capability, enabling it night vision.

The night vision capability of T-90 is of lower category. It malfunctions in the heat of Rajasthan, says an in-house input of the Indian Army. The Army plans to have 1,650 T-90s in the next few years. The production has been localised and the first tanks built in India rolled out a few months ago.



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