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Vijayanta

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Crew

Combat Weight: 39,000 kg.

Ground Pressure: Not Known.

Power-to-Weight Ratio: 18 bhp/ton.

Engine: One L60 Leyland Diesel rated at 535 bhp.

Fuel Capacity: Not Known.

Maximum Speed: 50 km/h.

Maximum Range: 530 km.

Transmission: Semi-Automatic.

Steering: Not Known.

Suspension: Not Known.

Electrical System: Not Known.

Gradient: Not Known.

Side Slope: Not Known.

Fording: 1.1 metres.

Trench Crossing: 3 metres.

Vertical Obstacle: 0.83 metres.

Ground Clearance: 0.432 metres.

Armament: 1 x 105mm L7A2 rifled gun with 50 rounds (Main Gun)
...............1 x 12.7mm Browning MG with 1000 rounds. (Ranging)
...............1 x 12.7mm machine gun with 2000 rounds. (Anti-Air)
...............1 x 7.62mm machine gun with 500 rounds. (Co-Axial)

Gun Elevation/Depression: Not Known.

Fire Control System: BEL AL 4421 Mk-1.B Digital FCS.

Smoke Grenade Launchers: Not Known.

Variants used by the Army: Vijayanta Armoured Recovery Vehicle
.....................................Kartik Bridge Layer Tank (BLT); Features an extended and modified Vijayanta tank chassis integrated to a hydraulically operated bridge laying system. The 20-meter long 'Kartik' Class 60 MLC bridge carried by the tank is one of the widest tank bridges in the world. The bridge can carry all types of tanks and other vehicles in service with the Indian Army, including the Arjun MBT.

Comments: The Vijayanta MBT is to be phased out by the Indian Army by 2008 and are to be replaced by the upgraded T-72M1. While exact numbers are not available, around 800+ are in active service and another ~ 1000 are kept in store. The over-hauling of the Vijayanta fleet was discontinued from the year 1999-2000 as the tank fleet was already approved for de-induction. It may also be noted that bulk production run of the Vijayanta spares ended in 1989.

Over 450 Vijayanta tanks were upgraded with the indigenous Tank Fire Control System (TFCS) developed by Bharat Electronics Limited (AL 4421 Mk-1.B Digital FCS). The project involved equipping the Vijayanta with a modern but Simplified Fire Control System (SFCS). In the first phase, the Marconi SFCS 600, imported from the U.K. was introduced and in the next phase, the superior next generation BEL FCS was fitted to a part of the Vijayanta MBT fleet. While the SFCS 600 incorporated an Ericcson laser range finder & sight and a Marconi ballistic computer, the TFCS consisted of a Barr and Stroud laser range finder & sight along with an Indian ballistic computer with its associated software. The process involved several technical trials and user trials spread out over a period of 3-4 years, which were conducted by the Combat Vehicle Research & Development Establishment (CVRDE) in cooperation with the Indian Army. After the SFCS and TFCS were established, the Hughes Aircraft Company offered, a more sophisticated FCS for the Vijayanta tank. This director type FCS called the Integrated FCS (IFCS) utilised various modular sub-systems developed under the NATO banner, by different countries. The system also incorporated thermal imaging and an electronic gun and sight linkage. After six months of system integration, the IFCS was validated successfully after a series of firing trials. However, India made a strategic mistake by not procuring the system. It would have provided valuable experience for the Arjun MBT, which went on to incorporate a similar FCS a decade thence.

As a spin-off from the Arjun MBT project, India developed its own 105mm APFSDS rounds for the Vijayanta and T-55 tanks. The DRDO (ARDE, HEMRL, DMRL) design was validated and accepted after trials. The Heavy Alloy Penetrator Factory, Trichy (HAPP) was set up for producing the APFSDS rounds and became operational from March 1990 onwards. From 1990 to 1994 itself, 45,207 rounds had been produced for the Indian Army. The Vijayanta can also fire HESH rounds (Ordnance Factory Board). Both APFSDS and HESH rounds have specific 'practice' versions too for training purposes. The HAPP in conjunction with DRDO has also productionised both 120mm and 125mm APFSDS rounds for the Arjun and T-72M1. The Vijayanta was also upgraded with the Kanchan composite armour suite developed for the Arjun. The Kanchan armour provides protection against both chemical attack (HEAT, HESH) and kinetic attack projectiles (APFSDS) at appropriate ranges under service conditions. Field trials were also carried out with retro-fitting these Vijayantas with the T-72 power pack. This would not only compensate for the weight increase due to the application of the Kanchan armour but would also be a step forward as compared to the L60 Leyland diesel engine. The obsolete Leyland engine is a maintenance intensive unit, affecting the Vijayanta's serviceability. The trials were successful, however the project was not pursued further in its entirety. There were also other attempts to replace the Vijayanta power pack with a more suitable one. DRDO conducted trials with engines provided by Kirloskar (India), Rolls-Royce (UK) and Detroit-Diesel (US). Ultimately, none of these engines were accepted because of technical as well as financial considerations.

By Nitin Venkatesh

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