The project to design and develop Arjun MBT was approved by the Government in 1974 with an aim to give the required indigenous cutting edge to our Mechanized Forces. The indigenously developed main battle tank has been inducted into service after 35 years of development.
The tank was meant to supplement and eventually replace the Soviet-era T-72 MBT that was first inducted in the early 1980s.
A prototype of the tank was ready for trial in 1982. However, the tank was publicly unveiled for the first time only in 1995.
After many years of trial and tribulation it has now proved its worth with its abilities to drive cross-country over rugged sand dunes and detect, observe and quickly engage targets - stationary and moving - with pin point accuracy.
DRDO blames changing “qualitative requirements” of the Army as the main reason for the long development period.
Arjun was originally meant to be a 40-tonne tank with a 105 mm gun. It has now grown to a 50-tonne tank with a 120 mm gun.
During trials the tank was found unsuitable for Punjab terrain because of its weight; there are chances that the bridges over canals in the state may collapse when the tank travels over them.
DRDO Chief VK Saraswat admitted to the limitation during his visit to DRDO's Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory (TBRL) near Chandigarh in March 8, 2013. [via TOI]
Saraswat said that during trials the tank was found better in mobility and accuracy in comparison to Army's mainstay T-90 tanks, but admitted, "During the trials it was found that canal bridges in Punjab were incapable of carrying its weight.
Saraswat added that the problem in Punjab can be tackled with the use of large iron bridges developed by DRDO for smooth transportation of troops in hostile terrain.
He added that the tank was found to be most suitable for deployment in the Thar deserts of Rajasthan.
Cost wise, 60% of Arjun is imported. However, 50% of the cost of Arjun goes into three imported components: the gunner’s main sight (GMS) from OIP Systems, Belgium; the gun control equipment (GCE) from Bosch, Germany; and the power pack (engine and transmission) from Renk, Germany.
Together, these components add up to Rs 12 crore.
According to DRDO, if the Indian Army had ordered Arjun in large quantities, DRDO would have been able to negotiate much more competitive prices for the three components, reducing overall price of the tank, and increasing the value of its indigenous components.
Other than the three major items, nearly 10,000-odd additional component that make up the Arjun are sourced from Indian industry. [Ref]
The Army placed its first order for 124 Arjun MBTs worth of Rs 1,760 crore in March 2000.
All additional orders will be placed for Arjun Mark-II.
In April 2012, DRDO Chief VK Saraswat told India Today
"There are 126 more Arjuns being built, in addition to the 126 delivered to the army. We are confident of getting another order of 350 Arjun mark 2 tanks."
By April 2012, a total of 126 Arjuns had been delivered to the Army.
As on December 10, 2011, Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF) Avadi had delivered 110 tanks to the Army, with deliveries of the remaining tanks scheduled to be completed by March 2012. [via IANS]
As on April 2011, HVF Avadi had delivered 101 tanks to the Army.
As on August 25, 2010, 85 Arjun MBTs had been delivered to the Army
As on May 2010, HVF had delivered 50 tanks and the Army had a 45-tank-strong regiment comprising Arjuns.