Tuesday, 29 July 2008

An appeal: "Paki" is not a term of abuse... please keep the debate polite


Dear Bloggers,

This blog will not be one where dissenting views are dismissed as "Paki" or "anti-national". Going by the way Pakistan's establishment has nurtured the Al-Khalid MBT, there is much to learn from them. So henceforth, "Paki" is not a term of abuse.

For a vibrant debate --- and I"m positive all of you want one on the Arjun --- the anti-Arjun viewpoint is as important as the pro-Arjun argument. Do come in with anti-Arjun views as well. Anyone who thinks that there is any tank without ANY minuses, is not familiar with tank design... because designing a tank is all about trading off between Firepower, Mobility and Protection.

It's called the Iron Triangle, and tank designers since World War I have discovered that you can have no more than two sides of that. So the Arjun can validly be criticised... just like the M-1 Abrams can. The weight issue is an important one, and I will ask a prominent AFV design expert to post an article exclusively on the Arjun's weight.

So do please confine the debate to the Arjun tank, rather than to the nationalities of those posting. I have (with great regret) deleted two posts that were using particularly offensive language.

I will post a detailed response to the valid --- indeed, the vital --- question, "Why is the Indian Army resisting the Arjun".

Keep the ideas flowing!

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

People seem a lot emotional about their view point. Not unlike the DRDO or the IA who are fighting the actual fight.

Can't the government, defense minister or MOD officials or someone else mediate and resolve this conflict? The army seems to be unquestioned in this whole affair.

May be finance minister can talk some sense to them regarding the economics of indigenising. May be the external affair minister can schedule a joint military exercise with Pakistani army. That way we can try Arjun against the Al-Khalids. Army needs some weird ways of convincing.

Interesting idea- the Iron triangle. Can we make it a square with cost as the fourth leg?

Anonymous said...

People seem a lot emotional about their view point. Not unlike the DRDO or the IA who are fighting the actual fight.
Anon,
People are emotional because unreasonableness causes ad hominem attacks and the debate degrades to name calling.

"A" brings up the point that "Arjun is not indigenous",

"B" counteres by "economies of scale, only powerpack and FCS are imported, FCS has been indigenized and several western tanks have imported powerpacks". Instead of withdrawing the original complaint and thanking "B" for the clarification, "A" calls "B" a DRDO stooge.

"A" brings up the point "Arjun is overweight", "B" counters by "but mobility is not affected, lower ground pressure, faster speed and acceleration and more protection for the crew", "A" calls "B" unpatriotic for putting IA at risk and demands an answer to his earlier complaint about imported components.

"B" calls "A" a citizen of a certain foreign country. Then the debate goes down the drain.

Ajai can help out a lot, by reading through the comments of the earlier post, and listing a FAQ with 50 questions and answers. At the end of the FAQ, make qualitative statements, if Arjun is 5 years over the development time allotted, put it in perspective (say technology denial after Pok-II or similar projects in India and abroad running into cost overruns), so next time "A" demands an answer to the "imported components problem" someone can respond "answer no 8" and get on with it.

In any case, (I think Ajai would agree), i'd rather see a heated debate than everybody keeping quiet smug in the misrepresented knowledge that Arjun is junk. This way, atleast some myths are being dispelled here.

Anonymous said...

I will forever lose my respect for the Indian Army if they reject the Arjun. I used to hold them in high esteem once.

Anonymous said...
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Jai said...

Mr. Ajai Skula,

Thanks for all these illuminating articles on Arjun, our indigenous effort in building a tank.

Just as you were previously indentified as known critic of Arjun, I'm your critic. My comments are in this blog, Shiv Aroor's blog, and others including Bharat-Rakshak.

This time I can't stop congratulating you for bringing out the genuine facts about Arjun and your standing for the good cause.

I wish your message reach thousands and thousands of Arjun lovers in India and voices ring in unision to be heard by MOD and IA.

With deepest from my heart, thanks for publishing the facts on Arjun.

Jai said...

Mr.Ajai,

It is not hard to guess why Army is not conducting comparitive trials of Arjun and T-XX tanks.

When proven by trials that Arjun is far superior than T-XX tanks, it ultimately blows away the myth of Russian tanks and armour and with that goes the chance of selling these tin cans to other third world countries, where Arjun may start to dominate if MoD decides to export Arjun.

If it is the russian pressure that is keeping the IA from carrying out the comparative trials, in a way to say, i'm afraid the IA is acting as Russian stooge.

You can further elaborate the remarks made by the 43rd reg. on the adv and disadv of Arjun Vs. T-XX to get more understanding on this.

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Pritam said...
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Anonymous said...

Anti-Arjun views. Better to utilize the term negative aspects of Arjun tank if any. This must not be deliberately done. But the Truth must be told. When the truth is told, it may be positive or negative, but one must not bother about this much negative or this much positive. Report things as it is.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ajai,

I wanted to know the reasona that IA gave for not conducting comparative tests for Arjun, T-72 and T-90?

Anonymous said...

Harry Says...

Dear Ajai,

Wrt the article you are planning to write next, I would request the following inputs:

1) What I would be most interested in understanding is how the Arjun has (technologically) turned a corner in the last two/three years.

2) Regarding your sources of information inside the Army, are the inputs coming in subjective or qualitative, i.e. are officers/jawans sharing their gut feeling or is it backed up by hard numbers/facts.

Hopefully, this would put some concerns to rest.

Anonymous said...

Clueless Harry,

Nothing suddenly "turns the corner" technologically or otherwise. It is a normal part of engineering development and product maturity. It is just that like any other brand new product with significant R&D, the Arjun has taken time to mature (around 10 years , which is very reasonable) and that has happened over the past 3 to 5 years.

What use is hard data or anything at all for you ? You have been going on and on , non stop without a clue of how things actually are , based on gut feel and perceptions, biases and data points going back to 5 /10/15 years ago, when that tank was in development. You didnt have the ability and maturity to look beyond your nose to realize that it was a normal development process and it takes time for new systems to mature. Now if if someone shows hard data that the Arjun is far better than the rubbish tin can 90 T-90 , that does not work as advertised in Indian conditions, you do not and will not have the integrity and emotional ability to recognize it and in the changed circumstances raise a toast to folks at DRDO that they have succeeded and that too quite well, despite all the trials and tribulations. They have succeeded in coming up with a very competitive tank ,compared to the global best out there in the first attempt. And yeah, it is actually much better than the T-90 !. But oh no,instead, you will will get into denial and get all defensive and keep parroting your old whines about the Arjun like a broken record. Forget it. Things have moved past the days when you and your types in the Army held fort and you and your ilk are as current and relevant as last week's newspaper.

Vishal Bhatia said...

Hi,

Sir, I've been following your blog since only recently.

I've close to zero knowledge of armor warfare, but I have my opinions which off late have been rather fickle.

In my opinion, the Arjun is a better tank, a way better tank. But the advantages that it offers (vis-a-vis) the T-90 are negated by the battle that the IA intends to fight. Simply put it, the T-90 is good enough; the Arjun is overkill.

Further, the cost factor is a major game-changer here. Inducting the Arjun in large numbers is going to be very costly, and even more so, when one looks at the fact that there are no significant advantages.

Plus, sir I trust my DGMF.

Looking forward to hear from you as I believe I may be wrong.

Ajai said...

Very important point made, Vishal. Any point that argues for the "sufficient" over the "unnecessary" has to be taken seriously in our context of limited resources.

But I believe that you're wrong, Vishal, for an entirely different reason. I shall try and convince you, just as soon as I get the time.

To get you thinking of a counter, let me spell out the broad logic of why we have to go for the "overkill". It's simply because we have to nurture two assembly lines: an assembly line of R&D (multiple assembly lines there, because there are so many critical technologies involved) and an assembly line of production. These don't work in a "stop and start" manner. There has to be smooth continuity in both of these.

Think about it.

Vishal Bhatia said...

Thank you for your early reply sir.

If I understand correctly, the "overkill" is essential as otherwise our R&D momentum hits a serious roadblock. Our assembly lines would face the same situation as well. This implies that Arjun would become another Marut.

So what you are suggesting is that the Arjun ought to be inducted to salvage the effort that has been put behind it as this effort will help us in designing a better tank. I must say Sir, I agree.

The point herein is: what is the number of Arjuns that we need to acquire so as to ensure this? Further, what should be the process therein -- tanks/year?

Plus, Sir, does your comment imply that the IA prefers a T-series type tank -- cheap and medium-tech?

RAJ said...

Re Ajai,

While you have thrown fat in the fire, perhaps rightly so, What is required a detailed objective article giving feature by feature comparison between T-72, upgraded T-72, T-90 and Arjun vs potential enemies.

I know it is a lot but nobody is better placed then you to do it, otherwise all this will boil down to rhetoric on both sides

Anonymous said...

Did you say "limited resources" Ajai ?

Some pointers to how limited our resources are: 3.5 Billion Euro deal for the 6 Scorpene submarines, MMRCA tender worth more than 10.5 Billion Dollars, 2 Billion Dollars for the 3 Phalcon Awacs, 1 Billion dollars for 6 C-130J heavy transports, 2 Billion Dollars for the Gorshkov Scrap with fresh price escalations and time overruns, 1.2 Billion Dollars for the latest batch of 347 T-90S are just some examples and I'm not going to argue like bean counters that these were unnecessary expenses. These were much needed to bolster our operational capabilities that had steadily eroded due to post gulf war economic crisis of the nineties.

My problem is that why is it then when it comes to indigenous research suddenly 305 crores look so expensive ? Why does an air force start penny pinching 2 squadron Akash deal for 1950 crores (less than 500 million dollars) ? Why does the air force feel so hesitant in committing 2 squadrons of LCA right away ?

How come we can't sue the Russians for all the contract violations they have done but instead punish indigenous research by shutting down the assembly line ?

Anonymous said...

In continuation to above:
My point is indigenous research takes time, patience, money and most importantly participation as a stake holder.
Most of the deals that I have cited above come with the joke called "TOT" all you get in the name of TOT are plans and raw materials and some processes, none of which we can use to extrapolate to get a better product otherwise we would have been already churning out LCAs in place of Jaguars and Arjuns in place of T-72 or T-90.

A TOT is just like a cooking recipe book, tells you the do-how but doesn't tell you the know-how and no one will tell you no matter how much you are willing to pay because that's the intellectual property one has gained through hard labour, numerous failures and expensive investments that's your ultimate cash cow. All they will do is give you some jigs and screwdrivers to assemble the product to a given tolerance

Anonymous said...

It was because if visionaries like Vikram Sarabhai, Dr. Homi Bhabha and Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam that we are quite abreast in the 3 crucial strategic fields of Space, Nuclear Science and Defence Research otherwise our western neighbor is a text book example of a country that is perennially dependent on cheap clones or has to literally beg for top of the line hardware from the western world

invalid said...

Does GSQR include weight limits ?

If yes, then it is IA who needs to support the program. If not, then DRDO has to scrap the project.

Teews said...

I shudder to think what would have happend to our Space (ISRO), Nuclear energy, Missile technology if we had done what the anti-Arjun guys are asking to do in the name of costs and what not. I am glad that there were visionaries in our country who countered these arguements and went forward with it. In days like this, I wish that the embargos were still on us. That is the only way these guys would understand the value of R&D and including the indegenous products.

akj said...

Harry,
i have tried to answer some of ur queries in my second comment on the previous post.

Dear Ajai,
I appreciate ur attempt to prevent abuse on this blog. Please keep reporting on Arjun. It is very informative as well as thought provoking.

Anonymous said...

I first came to know about Arjun from my 5th standard Hindi text book & that it is “THE PRIDE OF OUR NATION”. Now I am 31 years old & find it to still struggling to find a place in Indian Army. I some time feel to be impotent to do nothing to save our Tank, rather then reading such news & posting comment in such blogs.
Is there no one in the GOI or MOD who can overrule such decisions taken by DGMF? DGMF seems to scrutinize ARJUN so minutely as if IA has the best weapons in the world. Don’t we hear news of barrel bursting of weapons & duds of foreign origin? The requirement for new tank of newer concept is nothing but a new GSQR as earlier to stop induction of Arjun. Personally I feel that DGMF is either confused or hell bound not to induct Arjun. The reasons may be anything but not in nations interest.
Remember a true patriot is not necessarily only the ones in uniform but can be anyone

Anil Kumar

Anonymous said...

"I first came to know about Arjun from my 5th standard Hindi text book & that it is “THE PRIDE OF OUR NATION”.

Sir, its so painful to see that the Indian Army one of the last upstanding institutions of the country has fallen in its standards by such an extent. The institution that I have always looked up to as upholding the highest standards of morality and dignity has seen better days.

And its all because there are some people at the top who have vested interests and some people at the top with rigid mindsets.

There is still no dearth of good officers and soldiers in my army but their voices are so muted that this institution has been attacked by all and sundry. The juniors have set exceptionally high standards (eg. Kargil War) where as the seniors are hell bent in destroying its reputation.

We all hear about Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA), its high time we had a RMA in Indian Army.

Anonymous said...

The debate about what tank to buy is rather pointless. Because the answer is neither!

The IA will never fight with any tank ordered today because India *will not* commence an offensive war with Pakistan. And if Pakistan initiates a war, India can hold it at bay with existing older equipment due to the inherent advantages of defensive positions.

So if purely economic considerations are to be taken into account, then the army should order neither the T-90 nor the Arjun and spend the money on other weapons.

Anonymous said...

I read many points. Some said armored warfare will never happen. This is absurd, we are hearing ceasefire violations by Pakistan. It can escalate any moment. Even if there is no ceasefire violation, there can be an armored thrust against India. The military must always be prepared to fight and win a war against India's adversaries. Arjun is the tank that will help the Indian Army to win any war. It's a tank that's highly capable than the T-90. It's the one that's required to fight and win wars. Someone said Arjun is an overkill. In military there is no overkill. Who has better strategy and machines win the war the other one loses. The Indian Army must order a minimum of 1000 Arjun's, since only the best tank win the battle for India, the army must go for only two variety of tanks that is the Arjun and T-90's. 1000 Arjun's and 1500 T-90's can only make 2500 tanks. What about the remaining 1500. It can be the T-72 Ajeya's that will continue until the FMBT arrives by 2020. In reality the T-72 will not stand a chance in modern warfare the army must have replaced them with around 1000 Arjun MK-II's. It will help them to win wars until the arrival of India's FMBT by 2020/22.

Anonymous said...

For the more technically oriented who keep clamoring for proof and more proof without looking into what has already been presented I am presenting extracts from a technical paper by scientists from CVRDE, Chennai and their work regarding improving the performance of BLT T-72 yes that's right it your favorite Tin Can and how they are doing the scum job of modifying that tank still today for the IA. Here it goes:

This is what it says of the PROBLEM (the T-72 chasis):
These subassemblies have been arranged in a certain sequence to meet the specific requirements.
The coolant is cooled by two radiators connected in series. On the water-flow side, it makes three
passes each in two radiators as shown in Fig. 3. The free-space available has been kept to
the minimum to keep the vehicle weight as low as possible. These tanks were designed to work efficiently within a maximum ambient temperature of 298K (25 oC), with marginal reduction in performance above 298K (25 oC). But when the ambient temperature
exceeds 318K (45 oC), the performance falls steeply (approx. 33 % drop in power).

The SOLUTION :
"The vehicle was subjected to hot weather trials in the deserts along with a standard vehicle, which was using unmodified radiators and oil coolers. The trials in deserts extracted maximum power from the engine, due to difficult traction in sand.
Coupled with this is the fact of very high, dry ambient conditions, viz., 323K (50 oC) and very
low relative humidity of 20-30 per cent. The schedule of the trial was to cover 35 km of nonstop run in these conditions. The standard vehicle could cover only 25 km before reaching the temperature limit of 388K (115 oC) when it had to be halted. Whereas, the vehicle with modified radiators and coolers
could complete the scheduled distance without any problem, with a maximum temperature of 381K (108 oC) only. This trial was repeated in a different location and the performance was observed to be
identical. The next trial was to run the vehicles in a very slushy terrain, which again extracted maximum power. In this case also, the trial vehicle with modified radiators and oil coolers performed excellently with maximum coolant temperature recorded being
378K (105 oC) only after covering stipulated 4 km, against 388K (115 oC) recorded by the standard vehicle covering less than half the distance (2 km). Subsequent to this, the vehicle was required to cross a river 500 m wide with 1m depth of water, flowing at a speed of 7 knot (approx. 3.6 m/s). The performance again was satisfactory
with the coolant temperature remaining less than 373K (100 oC). The vehicle was subjected to a
continuous reliability run of 70 km in the same desert terrain, i.e., running at an average speed
of 20 km/h and providing for short halts to look after conveniences of the crew members. Again, the vehicle performance was satisfactory with coolant temperature remaining at less than 378K (105 oC).

Link: http://publications.drdo.gov.in/ojs/index.php/dsj/article/viewFile/322/148

So next time when the armored thrust happens from the western sector, do we say to them No wait ! The temp. is too high my T-72/T-90 won't be able to fight you. And they say yeah why not ?
Even our T-80 UDs are equally worthless in Thar desert so lets wait for the monsoons !!

Anonymous said...

In continuation to my above technical post lest it be called a rant:

"These tanks were designed to work efficiently within a maximum ambient temperature of 298K (25 oC), with marginal reduction in performance above 298K (25 oC)"

Why is it so ? Because our ambient temperature (30 deg. C) is greater than the maximum operating temperature for which these machines were built and designed i.e. for Russian terrains.

"The free-space available has been kept to the minimum to keep the vehicle weight as low as possible."

Why is it so ? Because it goes with the Russian armoured philosophy of building light weight tanks that can be churned in greater numbers.

How come then a pltaform which such inherent deficiencies become a Main battle Tank platform for India which has a different terrain and different climate.

We don't even have a basic tank philosophy so lesser said the better, I'll leave that for Ajai, to comment upon.

Raj said...

Vishal Bhatia said...

Thank you for your early reply sir.

If I understand correctly, the "overkill" is essential as otherwise our R&D momentum hits a serious roadblock. Our assembly lines would face the same situation as well. This implies that Arjun would become another Marut.

So what you are suggesting is that the Arjun ought to be inducted to salvage the effort that has been put behind it as this effort will help us in designing a better tank. I must say Sir, I agree.

The point herein is: what is the number of Arjuns that we need to acquire so as to ensure this? Further, what should be the process therein -- tanks/year?

Plus, Sir, does your comment imply that the IA prefers a T-series type tank -- cheap and medium-tech?


there is nothing called OVERKILL in army philosophy, the more the better. I think the first philosophy of warfare is never underestimate the enemy.

It has been proved beyond doubt that ARJUN has very high crew survivability(better than T series tanks), and as far as I am concerned even if the ARJUN tank saves one life, its worth all the extra money IA spends on it.

Anonymous said...

Some said armored warfare will never happen. This is absurd, we are hearing ceasefire violations by Pakistan. It can escalate any moment.

Nothing absurd in this. Indian leadership will never escalate a war against Pakistan as doing so detracts from maintaining the stability required to ensure progress within India.

Proof of this is in the fact that India is negotiating with the US and Pakistan for energy deals, when the logical course of action for resolving the energy crunch is to gain control of an energy corridor to the Middle East via military means.

Even if there is no ceasefire violation, there can be an armored thrust against India.

Which can be stopped far more efficiently by the use of aircraft such as helicopter gunships or fighter bombers.

Anonymous said...

"Which can be stopped far more efficiently by the use of aircraft such as helicopter gunships or fighter bombers."

Thats what US thought in Afghanistan and Iraq. How wrong that turned out to be! There is No, I repeat, No substitute to legs on grounds which means they need armour whether in the form of tanks or any other armour for that matter. India knows it, Pakistan knows it, US is learning the hard way.

Vishal, there is nothing called overkill. The goal of IA or any professional army is to crush the enemy within the shortest possible time with the least amount of losses. Thats how you win a War. The longer the war is the more the losses and you give time for the enemy to regroup. Kapish!!!

Anonymous said...

Look at this.

frontierindia.net/savearjuntank

http://frontierindia.net/savearjuntank/arjun-tank-faq

Very informative!

Anonymous said...
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