Finally, a mobile camouflage system has been developed and integrated into the Arjun Mk1A in collaboration with Sweden’s Barracuda Camouflage Ltd to reduce the vehicle’s signature against all known sensors and smart munitions.
As I had stated in mid-2011, for all intents and purposes, the Arjun Mk2 MBT—currently under development since mid-2007—will be more expensive and have a higher imported content than its predecessor, the Arjun Mk1. But in terms of mobility, protection and firepower, the Mk2 variant will come closest to what Indian Army HQ wants: an MBT with highly enhanced crew protection and maximum survivability in high-intensity, fire-saturated combat environments. To achieve this, the CVRDE has roped in Cummins India and Elbit Systems, with the former being responsible for improving mobility and fuel consumption, and the latter for redesigning and modifying the MBT’s digital vectronics suite, gun-control system, survivability systems and air-conditioning hardware.
Work on developing the Arjun Mk2 began in the second half of 2007 soon after joint R & D contracts were inked between the CVRDE, Cummins India and Elbit Systems. On October 31 that year, the CVRDE floated domestic and global expressions of interest for the co-development of a 1,500hp compact high specific power output diesel engine incorporating a state-of-the-art direct fuel injection system, digital electronic controls, turbo-charging, charge air cooling, safety controls and a pressurised multi-stage air-cleaning system; and for a hydro-kinetic automatic transmission with four forward and two reverse gears. US-based Cummins, offering a customised QSK-38 liquid-cooled, direct-injection engine coupled to SESM of France’s ESM-500 automatic transmission. In late 2009, a combination of the QSK-38/ESM-500 powerpack was selected as the winner, following which Cummins India began customising this powerpack design. The ESM-500, with five forward and two reverse gears, contains a planetary gearbox with shifting, steering and braking systems. It is also equipped with a hydrodynamic steering system, which allows different turning radii depending on engine speed and selected gear. The braking system contains of two stages. As a parking brake and for a speed of up to 35kph air-cooled disk brakes are used. At higher speeds a retarder is used. In addition, the transmission is equipped with a power takeoff for the cooling fans of the powerpack. Also, a hydrokinetic retarder can slow the MBT down at a decelleration rate of 7 metres/square second (0.7g), which can be very useful at the last moment before it could be hit.
Supplementing this powerpack will be
an 8kW APU, which will provide power when the MBT is on ‘silent watch’ for
battery recharging and night observation, with full systems operating while the
main engine is shut down.
The Arjun Mk2’s turret will also house an integrated battle management system (BMS) designed by Elbit Systems (and licence-built by Bharat Electronics Ltd), which, like on the Arjun Mk1A, will provide rapid communications networking between the tactical tank commander and his subordinate units. It will enable the tank commander to plan missions, navigate, and continuously update situational awareness. The system will also record data for operational debriefing by using a digital data recorder, which will record and restore sight images and observation data collected during missions. This data can be shared with other elements, using the same network with the BMS, to report enemy targets.
The Arjun Mk2’s turret-mounted autoloader (also being developed indigenously) will be able to load the 120mm rifled-bore main gun from a fully automated, fire-proof magazine, which will accommodate up to 10 ready rounds and deliver up to four types of ammunition types to the loader. In addition to APFSDS and hyperbaric rounds, the Arjun Mk2 will make use of indigenously developed APAM munitions designed to neutralise—especially in urban built-up terrain—tank-killer squads lurking with lethal anti-tank weapons. The APAM will use the proven concept of anti-personnel munitions based on controlled fragmentation. It will deploy sub-munition shrapnel at defined intervals, covering a wide lethal area against soft targets. Each fragment is shaped to have enough kinetic energy to penetrate conventional body armour, or other materials.
For improving crew comfort, the Arjun Mk2 will incorporate an Elbit Systems-supplied individual crew and equipment cooling system (ICECS), while will provide cooled and dried air from a special air conditioner to air-cooled overalls or vests. The air will naturally cool the upper torso of each crewman. Also being acquired from Elbit through a transfer-of-technology agreement for the MBT crew are regular/fire-resistant air-cooled overalls, NBC protected air-cooled overalls, and air-cooled compact vests.