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Indian Battle Tank Gets New Electro-Optical Fire-Control System

Image credit: Press Information Bureau

India is set to equip its domestic main battle tank (MBT), Arjun MK1A, with an electro-optical (EO) fire-control system, enhancing the tank’s precision. The MK1A is an upgraded version of the Arjun platform with increased firepower, manoeuvrability, and survivability. It was designed and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

The state-run Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) plant in Chennai is building the system in collaboration with a Bangalore-based design company. The company’s fire-control product is a multi-sensor EO payload designed for easy integration in remote-controlled weapon stations (RCWS) and long-range surveillance and reconnaissance. It features a high-resolution cooled middle wavelength infrared (MWIR) imager, colour CCD camera, Laser Range Finder, and an integrated ballistic computer. For target acquisition and georeferencing, it can optionally incorporate a GPS and a digital magnetic compass with an inclinometer. It will be delivered as part of the deal and integrated into the Arjun MK1A MBIs.

With this system, it will be easier for the tanks to acquire, loc, and engage moving targets using human or automatic tracking. The system has three features: automatic target detection, tracking, and classification. Low-power consumption and weight are free from foreign export and incising requirements and India’s only indigenous RCWS sighting system.

Arjun MK1A tank has significant enhancements over the Arjun MBT, the Indian Army’s existing main compact tank in service. The MK1A can operate in all terrains and engage targets at night. The driver has a seat that provides additional protection during a mine blast. Furthermore, an integrated explosive reactive armour system is installed in the turret and the front portion of the chassis.

Arjun MK1A is powered by a V-90 turbocharged, charge-cooled, water-cooled diesel engine producing 1030 kW at 2,400 rpm. It has an epicyclic gearbox, a hydrodynamic torque converter, a mechanical lock-up clutch, a hydrodynamic retarder, and four forward and two reverse gears.

DRDO is the research and defence wing of the Ministry of Defence. Its aim is to empower India with cutting-edge defence technologies and achieve self-reliance in critical defence technologies and systems. It equips the armed forces with state-of-the-art weapon systems and equipment. It was formed in 1958 and has grown multi-directionally in terms of disciplines, a number of laboratories, and accomplishments. Today, DRDO is a network of more than 50 laboratories that develop technology in aeronautics, armaments, electronics, combat vehicles, engineering systems, instrumentation, missiles, advanced computing and simulation, special materials, and naval systems.

The organisation is also deploying artificial intelligence (AI) as a part of the Ministry of Defence’s plan to boost digital transformation in the sector. In August, OpenGov Asia reported that under an AI roadmap, an AI framework and guidelines for projects in the DRDO were issued. All DRDO system laboratories have formed AI technology groups to introduce AI features in defence products. DRDO also has three dedicated laboratories to carry out orientated AI research in different domains: the Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR), the DRDO Young Scientist Laboratory (DYSL)-AI, and the DYST-CT (Cognitive Technology). CAIR nurtures start-ups and conducts workshops for DRDO scientists to create skill sets for AI in defence systems.

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