BHARAT RAKSHAK MONITOR - Volume 4(5) March-April 2002

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Tank-Ex: DRDO's New Tank

Nitin Venkatesh

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Tank-Ex is a significant development and is the second attempt (after the successful Combat Improved Ajeya /upgraded T-72M1)by the Arjun MBT developers to harness its technology spin-offs. The Tank Ex appears to be an ideal solution for upgrading the Indian Army's vast and aging  T-72M1 fleet. Having undergone six months of trials in Rajasthan till now, it will presumably need many more to be fine tuned per Army requirements. However, it must be noted that the two crucial "parts" of the Tank Ex - namely the Arjun turret with its weapon system and the T-72M1 (Ajeya) platform/chassis are well tested and already certified by the Army.

General details:

  • Crew: 4 - commander, gunner, loader and driver.

  • Combat weight: The Tank -Ex at 47 tons is heavier than the T-72M1 (41 tons) and much lighter than the Arjun MBT, which tips the scales at 58.5 tons.

  • Power plant:The Tank-Ex has a 1000 hp power plant (as on the Combat Improved Ajeya) giving a power to weight ratio of 21 hp/ton for a weight of 47 tons. This represents an improvement over the T-72M1's 20 hp/ton with a weight of 41 tons and an 780 hp power plant.

  • Ground pressure: 0.94 Kgf/cm Square, marginally higher than the T-72M1's 0.90 Kgf/cm square. 

  • Suspension: Torsion bar with hydrostruts; also an improvement over the T-72M1 torsion bar system. 

  • Dimensions: The usage of the T-72M1 chassis gives the Tank Ex a lower silhouette than the Arjun MBT, which stands tall at 3.03 meters (over AD gun mount).                       

Length (gun forward): 9.19metres

Width(over tracks): 3.37metres  

Height(over AD gun mount): 2.93metres 

Ground clearance: 0.47metres

Armament: The Tank Ex utilizes the Arjun MBT's 120mm rifled gun firing unitary APFSDS and HESH semi combustible cartridge case ammunition. A total of 32 rounds are carried as compared to 39 in the Arjun and 45 two piece ones in the T-72.The Arjun's armament system is the most powerful one available to Indian developers today. The choice of calibre, weapon design and ammunition make it superior to the in-service 125mm 2A46 guns on the T-72M1. The Tank Ex retains the Arjun's third generation director type integrated FCS (Fire Control System) including a sophisticated digital ballistic computer. It may be noted that the Arjun FCS is an updated one(with digital components replacing the original analogue ones) as compared to the original, which faced numerous technical problems. Firepower trials validated the efficacy of the updated Arjun FCS and led to its recent acceptance by the Army. Capable of firing on the move, the Tank Ex also is fully "night ready" with the gunner having a thermal imager integrated with his main sight. A standby articulated sight is provided as backup for the main sight. The tank commander (as in the Arjun MBT) has his own fully stabilized sight with relevant controls for surveillance, target acquisition and engagement, giving excellent hunter-killer ability. The gun control system is electro-hydraulic. Gun elevation/depression is +16.5 deg/-10 deg , better than the T-72M1's + 14 deg/-6 deg. As in the Arjun MBT and the T-72M1, a co-axial 7.62mm PKT machine gun and a 12.7mm NVST Heavy Machine gun(air defense) are standard. The tank also incorporates an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) to operate the weapons systems in silent watch mode.

Navigational aids: A global positioning system is provided for accurate navigation. This is a feature common to both the Arjun MBT as well as the Combat Improved Ajeya .

Protection: The Tank Ex utilizes the state of the Art composite armor-"kanchan"-especially over its frontal arc(Turret as well as glacis) giving excellent protection against both Kinetic and Chemical rounds. The usage of the Arjun turret design indicates that the Tank-Ex may also have its "ready" ammunition stored in the bustle (as in the Arjun),separated from the crew and provided with blow off panels. This would be a significant protective feature in line with "western" design practices. Kanchan is an extensively tested and successful armor, which is available for retrofit to other IFV programs. The Tank Ex also has  fully integrated Nuclear Biological and Chemical (NBC) protection The usual turret mounted 81mm antithermal smoke grenade launchers are also standard on the Tank-Ex.

Performance and Obstacle Negotiation: The Tank Ex  retains the T-72 attributes of speed and agility with a maximum speed of  60 km/hr (on road) and 40 km/hr (cross country).While the gradient climbing at 30 degrees it remains in line with all variants of the T-72 like the B(M). The Tank Ex is better at trench crossing.(2.6 metres as compared to the T-72M1's 2.28 meters).Vertical Obstacles  0.85 metres tall can be surmounted, same as the T-72M1.Shallow fording is quoted as 1.2 metres.

 All photos by Raj Malhotra and DRDO. Do not reproduce without permission.

Copyright Bharat Rakshak