Arjun Tank Disaster Part I: History
After the war of 1971 ended, the Indian army realized the limitations of their tank fleet in the unforgiving desert conditions of Rajasthan, so they initiated their own indigenous MBT design. In 1972 Indian army put together requirements for a new main battle tank that will enter service in India's army....
Twenty six years later the end product strongly resembles the Leopard II,
though its development process was plagued with delays and its future is in doubt. Based on 1971 battlefield experiences, the MBT-80 was to have a locally-designed, rifled 120mm main gun, a diesel power plant because Indians considered the turbine engines as fuel guzzlers and a computerized fire control system with a laser range finder. One of the early 'Chetek' prototypes was unveiled to the public on Indian Republic Day, 26 January 1984.
At the time, Arjun had a German MTU-based 1400 HP diesel (until a home-grown one was ready), with a weight of 52 tones much higher than the sketch concepts which were around 40-45 tons
and a price tag of US $1.6 million (2 crore rupees, to total 15.5 crore for the whole project). The locally-developed engine, which the Indians hoped to produce 1300-1500 HP from, only delivered 500HP
Meanwhile, Arjun development costs continued to increase, from October 1980 Rs. 56.55 crores to Rs 280 crores
in May, 1987.
The DRDO conducted the first technical trials in 1988. Indian Defence Minister Sharad Pawar on October 1991said that there were 12 prototypes Arjun MBT's 'in an advanced stage of development. General B.C. Joshi, the former Army Chief (now deceased), foresaw two Armoured Regiments of 45 Arjuns apiece, but insisted that 10 imperatives be met in 1994 before the tank could be accepted by the Army
The Pakistani deal with the Ukraine to purchase T-80UD/T-84's announced in the fall of 1995 caused another flurry of activity in the Indian military community .....