DRDO Arjun

India (2001) Main Battle Tank - app. 255 built (2021).

Development of the Arjun

About DRDO

The Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment, or "DRDO" was created in March 1975 at Chennai, to beter gather technicians, engineers in the same spot, in the wake of the Indian domestic tank program started in 1972. Most of its former assets came from the Chief Inspectorate of Mechanical Transport Establishment (MTE) in Chaklala (Pakistan) moved to Ahmednagar. It became the "Vehicle Research & Development Establishment" or VRDE. In 1965, the Heavy Vehicles Factory created at Avadi to manufacture the Vijayanta Tank saw an adjunction from VRDE there to provide R&D support. In March 1976, this Avadi detachment was separated from VRDE and became, and then the independent DRDO laboratory, now the exoert center of Armoured Fighting Vehicles in India. CVRDE was responsible for the development of the Arjun MBT but worked also on the Tank-EX, Bhim Self Propelled Artillery and Improved Ajeya (T-72 upgrade).

Early development

The previous Vijayanta always has been seen as a stopgap measure, a local tank based on the export Vickers medium in the early 1960s. After the war of 1965 it appeared clearly to Indian army planners that the latter was no longer relevant and in 1972 was signed the development of a new tank, entirely designed and built in India. DRDO's CVRDE main laboratory was tasked to develop the hull, armour and turret as well as the running gear and gun. Only the powerpack was considered to be imported. Nevertheless, these researches proceeded slowly and the vagaries of politics meant the project was underfunded. In 1977 it was estimated the new domestic tank would not ready for production before perhaps five to eight more years. Since a new model was urgently needed to replace the old Centurion and Vijayanta models, prospects were made to the international market.

Delays and the Ayeja program

In 1978 already, French & British Proposal to replace the Vijayanta were received. Firepower and mobility characteristics were to be offered for full in-country production. These were respectively the French AMX-40, developed by GIAT Industries, and the Chieftain 800 (a precursor to the Challenger 1), from the Royal Ordnance Factories owned by British Aerospace. The Indian Army conducted dozens of comparative tests. By early 1980 the 43-tonne AMX-40 MBT, still on the drawing board, was chosen. It relied on a 1,100 hp Poyaud V12X 12-cylinder diesel engine, coupled with a German LSG-3000 automatic power shift transmission (by RENK). With a power-to-weight ratio of 25.6 hp/tonne, it was much faster and had the same 120 mm smoothbore cannon as it contenter. However its protection was very poor by the standards of eighties.

When she came back to power, PM Indira Gandhi requested additional evaluations, including the T-72M from the USSR (172M-E4 MBT off-the-shelf) and started negiociating for a licensed-production at the state-own Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF) in Avadi. This became the T-72M Ajeya, produced to a total of 2,400 Ajeya MK1 an late production MK2. They helped replacing the intended tanks and maintain India's capability in terms of numbers with cost-efficiency. The whoe program led to the "Improved Ajeya" led by DRDO incorporating many advances made for the Arjun, which entered production in the meantime.

The arjun program is back on track

It's only from 1996 that the Indian government decided to mass-produce the tank still in development at the Indian Ordnance Factory's production facility, in Avadi. To speed things up, the government imposed the new MBT would used as many foreign components and technology as possible, in spite of the origin of the program in 1972. In the end, the Arjun had close to 50% of its components imported, including the engine, transmission, gun barrel, tracks, and fire control system. They allowed the Arjun to enter service as scheduled, but development went on to replace all these systems by Indian ones, leading eventually to the Arjun mark 2. In total, the Arjun development time spaned for over 37 years. "Recent comments from Army sources indicate that the Russian T-90S will form the mainstay of its future force, despite the tank's performance issues in hot weather. The Arjun project experienced serious budget overruns and repeated delays that resulted in a . This was mainly due to the fact that India had no experience, facilities and research base for building such an advanced tank, where other major world powers had vast experience in building tanks since before World War II. A complicating factor was that advances in technology and the threat environment in the intervening years led to multiple revision of requirements by the Army. While the government sanctioned ₹15.5 crore (equivalent to ₹374 crore or US$52.4 million in 2019) for the initial design in May 1974,[30] by 1995, DRDO had spent ₹300 crore (equivalent to ₹14 billion or US$201.7 million in 2019) on development due to changing requirements and inflationary cost increases.[35] However, DRDO, succeeded in bridging more than several decades worth of technology gap in producing a Generation III tank at much less development cost than other countries to get on par with International standards. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arjun_(tank)


Arjun Prototype in 1989

Arjun Mark I

Arjun Mark I

Arjun Mark 2

Arjun Mark 2


Modern Tanks

Argentine Tanks

Modern MBTs posters

Denel Bagder (2018)

Type 16 MCV (2016)

Gepard 1A2 last rounds 2011


Russian AFVs

Main Battle Tanks