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Sunday, 27 April 2008

Latest on Arjuns

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The Times of India -Breaking news, views. reviews, cricket from across India

Despite row, army & DRDO to go ahead with Arjun tank trials
27 Apr 2008, 0505 hrs IST,TNN

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NEW DELHI: Amid escalating controversy about whether there was "internal sabotage" during the last round of trials of the indigenous Arjun main battle tank, the army and DRDO are gearing up for the next phase of trials.

The fourth round of AUCRT (accelerated usage-cum-reliability trials) of the Arjuns will be held in the first week of May, even as the army and DRDO remain at loggerheads over the tank’s performance.

The latest round of controversy has erupted with minister of state for defence production Rao Inderjit Singh holding that the "possibility of sabotage" in the recent winter trials of the tanks "should be examined".

DRDO, on its part, says the army is extremely reluctant to induct the Arjuns despite extensive trials, which have seen the tanks being driven for 75,000 km, with firing of over 10,000 rounds.

"The Arjuns have proven themselves. But the army seems more keen on inducting foreign tanks at great cost rather than indigenous ones," said an official.

The army, however, pooh-poohs such claims. "This talk of internal sabotage, seeking to blame the army, is totally wrong. We just want the problems identified in the Arjuns to be rectified. We are not against induction of indigenous equipment but cannot accept faulty tanks," said a senior official.

The problems, listed out by army chief General Deepak Kapoor in a letter to defence minister A K Antony, includes failure in the German-origin engines of the tank, especially in the transmission systems.

The army told the parliamentary standing committee on defence that the tanks had "performed very poorly" during the winter trials, with "four engine failures".

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