89 improvements to India’s Arjun MK1A tank, incl auto-tracking

NEW DELHI ($1=82.63 Indian Rupees) — The latest modification of the Indian Arjun tank, the Arjun MK1A has received 89 improvements over the previous MK1 version. The tank was presented just days ago at the local defense and security exhibition DefExpo 2022. 73 of the improvements can also be made on the MK1, says the Heavy Vehicles Factory [HVF].

89 improvements to India's Arjun MK1A tank, incl auto-tracking
Phoot credit: Indian Government

The Arjun MK1A is a new design that went into production last year. If we compare the two versions of the tank according to their basic characteristics, we will find very small differences, but they are there. MK1A is heavier than MK1 by over 9 tons. This leads to a reduction in top speed. MK1 moves at 70 km/h, while MK1A at 58 km/h.

One of the main differences is in the turret of the tank. MK1A has an integrated remotely operated turret, as well as an increased amount of smoke grenades – 16 (MK1 has 12). Back on the turret, the MK1A has improved Kanchan and ERA armor, while the MK1 continues with composite modular armor. Here, the manufacturer says that in the future, the MK1 may also receive improved armor.

The Indian manufacturer has made some key integrations in the MK1A. These include the NERA for protection, the gunner’s main sight with the automatic target tracking system, as well as the integration of the commander’s panoramic sight [CPS MK-II]. The tank’s daytime sights are now doubled, and a laser rangefinder and a thermal imaging sight have been added to them. As you can see, serious attention has been paid to the command center in the tank. The driver now has an uncooled measuring system with binocular vision. In this number, we can include the integration of a new advanced navigation system.

Although the tank moves at a lower top speed than its predecessor, here the manufacturer has made improvements that make the Arjun MK1A much more secure and mobile in difficult terrain. This is achieved thanks to a new auxiliary power unit. According to HVF, it is twice as powerful as the MK1. The undercarriage features a new system, thanks to a redesigned hydropneumatic suspension system.

India fires a laser-guided ATGM from the 120mm gun of Arjun tank
Photo credit: DRDO

Last but not least is that a large part of the improvements was carried out with a local resource. I.e. India continues to improve and work on Made in India program.

In the past, the Arjun tank had problems with its 120mm main gun. Over the years, New Delhi has invested in developing solutions to ensure the effectiveness of the 120mm gun. Apparently, these investments have paid off. For example, in August of this year, the 120mm gun of the Arjun tank was tested by firing an ATGM. The tests were successful, which improved the lethality of the cannon.

India intends not only to arm itself with the Arjun MK1A but also to prepare the tank for export. The first signs that the Indian tank was attracting interest came from Bahrain. This happened in March when the two governments began negotiations.

Arjun may turn out to be much more valuable to India now than was thought years ago, when New Delhi spent money mostly on Russian designs, through the purchase of T-90 tanks. Today, Arjun is at the heart of India’s latest launch program – the development of an unmanned ground vehicle. In April this year, India announced these intentions, explicitly emphasizing that the Arjun MK1 would be at the heart of the entire project.


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