With Dr P Sivakumar, CVRDE's director, a formidable suspension systems specialist. Here's a brief on the Arjun Mark II's improved running gear...
by Ajai Shukla
One of the distinctive features of the Arjun tank is its hydro-pneumatic suspension, distinct from and far more advanced than the "torsion bar" arrangement that conventional MBTs (including the T-90) feature. The Arjun's suspension provides a smoother ride, making the tank a more stable gunnery platform that permits more accurate engagement of targets whilst on the move.
The Arjun Mark II features an enhanced version of the Arjun's well-proven hydro-pneumatic suspension, with the new one designed for a 70-tonne load. This is part of an improved "running gear", including the road wheel mountings, the road wheels, axle arms and shock absorbers.
The new suspension has already been tested in the recent trials and run for 1,300 kilometers. In order to obtain an accurate comparison with the earlier suspension, the trial tank was fitted with both: the old suspension on the left side and the new one on the right. The photographs --- in which the new suspension still looks new while the old suspension looks somewhat the worst for wear (not surprising; 1,300 km is a lot of running!) --- point to a successful upgrade.
The Arjun's suspension will be practically all-Indian. The road wheels, which continue to be built by Sundaram Industries, have been improved with better manufacturing and bonding processes for the rubber. Tractor Engineeers Ltd (TENGL), an L&T company, is doing parallel development of the Arjun track (imported so far), including development of one of the most difficult running gear technologies: the track pins.
I am amused at the many who appear to believe that the Arjun is "built entirely of foreign components" that are "hammered together in India". This kind of view is rooted in a deep lack of understanding of the processes of indigenisation. It is true that almost 60% of the cost of the Arjun goes on imported components. Practically all of that goes on just three components --- the power pack; the gunner's main sight (GMS); and the gun control equipment (GCE). Almost all the Arjun's other 10,000-odd component are sourced from Indian industry, which is rising to the challenge. More support from the government, in terms of better procurement procedures, would accelerate this.
There will be more on this particular issue in Broadsword. Stay tuned...