Chennai: The latest version of India's main battle tank, Arjun Mark II, will be tested for the first time at Pokhran in Rajasthan from June 11, a senior official has said.
Developed by the country's leading defence research and development organisation, the DRDO, the machine and its performance will be closely watched by the Army.
"We have made some recommendations on the MBT and it will be tested. The turret related tests will start from June 11 and that of chassis automotive system (lower part of the tank) will start from June 25 extending for a month. This is a DRDO exercise and the user (Army) will be observers. This is the first time Arjun Mark II is going for testing," the official told PTI.
The Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE) has designed Arjun Mark II with the 93 recommendations put forward by the various stakeholders including the Army.
Arjun Mark II can fire missiles, have an enhanced Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) with a capacity of 8.5 KW (against Mark I's 4.5 KW), Explosive Reactive Armour panels (ERA), mine plough, Automatic Target Tracking (ATT), Advanced Land Navigation System (ALNS), digital control harness, advanced commander panoramic sight among other features, the official said.
Arjun will have a better gun barrel with an Equivalent Firing Charge (strength of the barrel to sustain firing) of 500 rounds against T 72's 250 rounds.
"Mark II will be able to travel at a speed of 60 km per hour in normal terrain and 40 km per hour in harsh terrain. On completion, the MBT will weigh around 66 tonnes," the official said.
The CVRDE is co-ordinating with Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE), Pune, High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL), Pune, Instruments Research & Development Establishment (IRDE), Dehradun, Centre for Fire, Explosive and Environment Safety, Delhi and Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory, Hyderabad for designing Mark II.
"After the testing, the MBT will go for a first user trial in October 2011 and production is expected to start from July 2012 after the second user trial," the official said.
"If everything goes on track, Heavy Vehicles Factory here will roll out its first batch of Mark II by the end of 2014 and a unit will cost Rs 35 crore. Mark II will have 90 per cent Indian components in its making," the official added.
At present, there are 2456 T 72s, over 300 T 90s and 110 Arjun Mark I deployed across the country.