India has started testing a deeply modernized version of its domestically-developed Arjun main battle tank, The Times of India newspaper reported.
The trials of the Arjun Mark II main battle tank (MBT) began at the Pokhran field firing range in northwestern India on June 22 and will continue until the end of July.
The testing focuses on 19 major modifications to improve the features that came under heavy criticism in its earlier version, the Arjun Mark I MBT, The Times of India cited on Monday India's Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) spokesperson Ravi Gupta as saying.
The major upgrades include missile-firing capability against long-range targets, panoramic sight with night vision, additional ammunition types, explosive reactive armor, advanced air-defense gun to engage helicopters, an advanced land navigation system and improved running gear.
The new version, if approved, will supplement 124 Arjun Mark I MBTs already in service. The Indian Defense Ministry has ordered a total of 124 modernized Arjun MBTs to be built at the DRDO's heavy vehicles factory in Avadi, near Chennay.
According to the Indian military experts, the 66-ton Arjun “moves like a 'Ferrari' in the desert” even compared with a lighter 40-ton Russian T-90S MBT, which is also in service with the Indian army.