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MoD clears 118 ‘improved’ Arjun tanks among Rs 17,000 crore worth of procurement proposals NewsFunda

NEW DELHI: The defence ministry on Tuesday cleared some new and old acquisition proposals collectively worth over Rs 17,000 crore, which included the procurement of 118 Arjun Mark-1A main-battle tanks for Rs 8,379 crore.

The contract for the “improved” Arjuns, which will be inked later this year after the

Cabinet Committee on Security

’s final nod, will be the second such mega deal for home-grown weapon systems in recent times. In the biggest-ever indigenous military deal, the Rs 47,000 crore contract for 83 new Tejas fighters was signed on February 3.

The 118 Arjuns, which will add to the first 124 such tanks inducted by the Army well over a decade ago, have 71 “upgrades” for better firepower, mobility, protection and endurance, as was earlier reported by TOI.

The Army, incidentally, has now also ordered emergency procurement of 27 M4 wheeled armoured vehicles under a Rs 178 crore contract inked with the Pune-based Bharat Forge company of the Kalyani group.

Interestingly, the M4 vehicles and a few others were earlier tested in Ladakh, during the military confrontation with China, for their ability to swiftly transport troops in high-altitude conditions.

On Tuesday, the defence acquisitions council (DAC), chaired by minister

Rajnath Singh

, also issued directions that all capital procurement contracts, other than design and development cases, should be concluded in two years.

Sources said the procurement proposals cleared by the DAC, which included a few for which the initial “acceptance of necessity (AoN) had lapsed, ranged from eight `Arudhra’ medium-powered radars (Rs 2,800 crore) and 13 `Namica’ tracked carriers with `Nag’ anti-tank guided missiles (Rs 500 crore) to a large number of `armour piercing fin stabilised discarding sabot (APFSDS)’ practice ammunition (Rs 270 crore), all of which have been developed by

DRDO

.

The DAC also approved a Rs 5,300 crore project to develop on-board “protection and counter-measures” for 820 armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) against guided missiles, rockets and other projectiles. This “Make-II” category project will see companies develop prototypes at their own cost for the final selection.

The main takeaway, however, was the nod for the 118 Arjun Mark-1A tanks. The Army for long has resisted induction of the “extra heavy” Arjun tanks, and has instead banked upon the Russian-origin T-90S `Bhishma’ tanks. The force has so far inducted 1,200 of the 1,657 T-90S tanks being licensed produced by the Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF) at Avadi.

Given that the Army also has 2,400 older T-72 tanks and is now looking for “futuristic” tanks, this order for the 118 Arjuns is likely to be the last. The DRDO, on its part, has worked hard to “satisfy” the Army by largely resolving “all maintenance, spares and other issues” as well as carrying out 14 major and 57 minor “refinements” in the Arjun Mark-1A tanks, all of which have been proven in extensive field trials. The only major upgrade left is the cannon-launched guided missile (CLGM), which too can be later fitted on the tanks, as was earlier reported by TOI.

HVF has promised to produce the first five Arjun Mark-1A tanks within 30 months of the indent being placed. Once these are approved by the Army, HVF will deliver 30 tanks per year.

News is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by Newsfunda

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