New Delhi: India will begin production of an upgraded version of the indigenous Arjun main battle tank (MBT), the Mark-II, by early 2014, according to Indian defence officials. The first set of Mark-II tanks already rolling off production lines for summer and winter trials this year.
According to Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) officials the Mark-II would feature several upgrades, including an indigenous engine that would replace the existing German engines and transmission systems of the 58-tonne Arjun Mark-I.
The engine and transmission systems are provided by German companies MTU and Renk respectively.
The first set of Mark-II tanks are being readied for trials within a year of the government sanctioning the Arjun Mark-II project last year in May.
'In 24 months from now or early 2014, the Arjun Mark-II tanks will be ready for production,' DRDO officials have said.
The Indian Army has placed orders for 248 Arjun Mark-I tanks of which 124 have already been inducted by the army for operational service. The army is now operating the 124 Arjuns as part of two regiments in the western sector and last May placed an order for an additional 124 tanks, especially after a stunning performance against the much touted Russian T-90S 'Bhishma' tanks.