Arjun vs T 90: Tank trials to kick off next month

After immense pressure from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) the Army has decided to go ahead with comparative trials between the Arjun tank and the T 90 Main Battle Tank (MBT) next month. While it will be interesting to see how the 'indigenous' tank holds up to the Russian origin mainstay of the Indian Army, the unfairness of comparing two totally different tanks has rankled experts both within and outside the military establishment.

On the face of it, both DRDO and the Army say that the comparative trials are not actually a competition between the tanks but are aimed at defining and finding a role for the Arjun in India's armoured fleet. However, the Army is feeling the heat from DRDO which is aggressively marketing the trials as a testing point that could pave the way for more orders for the Arjun from the present cap of 124 units.

This, after the Army has virtually ruled out the Arjun for further orders and instead wants DRDO to use it as a base for a new tank that would find a place in its war plans. For the Army, the last nail in the Arjun coffin came after the accelerated user trials in 2008 that resulted in a massive setback after the power pack failed four times during just 1,000 km of running.

However, after the embarrassment two years agno, DRDO came up with a new theory of comparative trials to 'prove' the capability of the Arjun. While the Army has been forced to schedule the tests after intense lobbying by DRDO, the huge difference in the class of the two tanks has irked experts who do not see any scope for comparison between the two weapon

systems.

For one, at 58.5 tons, the Arjun is more than 10 tons heavier than the T 90. The added weight and size gives the tank several advantages over the Russian machine in terms of more armour, greater capability to carry ammunition as well as extra sensors. The plan to compare a 58.5 ton machine with a 46 ton tank has been described as 'absurd'.

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