A comparison table:
It is comparable to any western tank and better than the T-90S. It consists of ERA Mk2 and Kanchan composite Armor. Arjun can take a point blank hit from T-72. demonstrated the capability to defeat HESH and APFSDS rounds, which included the Israeli APFSDS rounds.A new honeycomb design of Non-Explosive and Non-Energetic Reactive Armour (NERA) along with nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) protection equipment is present on Mk2. Entire Electronic protection suit (LWR, RWR, Laser dassler, EW Jammers). Arjun Mk2 uses a Mobile Camouflage system to reduce it’s signature made by DRDO, same is used on T 90S as well. All this active and passive protection systems are on par with any modern western tank.
It has a 120 mm rifled cannon which will be replaced by a smoothbore in upcoming HNS Mk2. Missile firing capacity is only in Merkava, T 90 and Arjun. Arjun uses Indigenous DRDO CLGM. Also a Themobaric Round has been made for Arjun Mk2 which is superior to any ammunition as of now. It also has BEL made 12.7mm RCWS and Includes Friend-foe identification device.Includes Day/night, thermal capable panoramic vision. So firepower is at par with any western tank.Moreover Arjun can Fire easily while moving at 25Km/hr whereas T-90S can do only upto 16 Km/hr.
However, the area that will see the Arjun Mk.2 emerging as a true new-generation MBT will be vectronics, and in particular the battlespace management system (BMS), which has been designed to operate at the unit-level and below, and which will synthesise the battlespace situational awareness picture for the unit commander, whether it be a mechanised infantry regiment or an armoured regiment. The MBT and selected infantrymen will thus become situational awareness platforms. Vectronics of Arjun Mk-2 are part of BMS(Battlefield Management System which was derived from F-INSAS) lateron these system will be integrated in APCs, IFVs and T72/90s.
Arjun and several prototypes of TATA kestrel(Ordered as pilot project) are the first to get test the BMS based network centric system. Hence Arjun is more Network Centric and have better situational awareness than any other tank in IAs inventory.
Arjun had been the centre of criticism only for one reason Weight.
Arjun Mk2 when fully loaded is 68 ton.
Challenger fully loaded= 72.5 Ton
M1A2 fully loaded=72 ton
What needs to be realised is that whenever we talk about weight and start abusing and criticising the Arjun as “Overweight Fat pig” when ground pressure of Arjun Mk2 is less than T-72, it is not the tank’s fault rather the theory on which it is built . All other tank the IA uses are Medium Battle Tank hence lower weight which emphasises on mobility but the western tanks are based on supreme firepower with robust protection and crew comfort hence the weight, the same theory on which Arjun is made.Also as of now Arjun is the only tank in IA inventory to have AC for the crew, T-72 CIA got ot later and T-90 was to be done but Russia had objections with same. Needless to say the major motivation behind it was to face the Pakistani M1A1 Abrams which was then offered by US to Pakistan but never made into Pakistani Inventory.
But we need to see the tank as a whole ecosystem which consists of
- Roads it will travel in it’s host country
- Maximum capacity of local bridges can take
- All other assets to make it cross ridges rivers like (ARV, BLT,trucks and wagons etc).
While the last has been taken care by DRDO and other agencies, the civilian Roads and bridges have way less capacity than 60 ton(Approx Deassembled weight of Arjun). Needless to say the normal roads are made not even keeping in mind about the civilians, you will find a big pit within a fortnight, imagine the condition of road just after a 68 ton beast rams over it. Only National highways are capable of carrying Arjun’s weight. In other terms Arjun might be ready but India’s Road network doesn’t seems in a mood to do so. Unlike in developed country where the max load of these roads are set keeping in mind their strategic importance.
Arjun Train Wagon:
Arjun On truck:
Future Upgrades underway
1.Use of HNS(High Nitrogen Steel) made by DRDO and produces by Jindal Steel Hisar to bring weight to 50–58 ton range.
2.New hull and turret are designed in collaboration with Dynamatic technologies and Alicon group and TATA power SED.
3.New Bharat powerpack 1500 HP instead of existing 1400 Hp (Below pic : Test rig).
4. Integration of indigenous APS, as of now Israeli APS can be used on Mk2 if needed.
5.New 120 mm Smoothbore cannon.
Firepower, Protection, Situational awareness, Electronic Warfare: Arjun Mk2 is comparable to any western tank if not better.
Logistics: Arjun is as weak as any western tank if moved inside India, even western tank will face problems in transportation in India, let alone Arjun. For that the motor roads have to be constructed accordingly.