THE new ammunition for India’s main battle tank Arjun was developed by two Pune-based research labs of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The new ammunition is even more destructive than before and was successfully test fired at Chandipur in Odisha on January 6. The new Penetration-Cum Blast (PCB) and Thermobaric (TB) Ammunition, specially designed for Arjun is the result of extensive research done by DRDO’s two labs located in Pashan — Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) and High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL). The two labs have been involved in the research and development of almost all the indigenous weapon systems of India.
A press release from the Defence PRO said, “The trials were found to be very effective and the damage was devastating with the firing of ammunition successfully destroying the target tank and severely damaging its turret, barrel, tracks, ammunition bin, various sights and antennas.”
An innovative chemical composition has been developed by HEMRL after extensive research for the TB ammunition. Speaking to The Indian Express, HEMRL Director KPS Murthy, who was present at the test firing in Chandipur, said, “This is a result of research by our teams for over five years. There is a feeling of satisfaction and pleasure among us which will keep us inspired to continue further development.”
Explaining why thermobaric ammunition is more effective, an HEMRL scientist said, “The thermobaric ammunition uses oxygen from air for burning as against the conventional one, in which the fuel is mixed with the oxydiser. So for equal weight of explosives, thermobaric is far more effective. This also means that thermobaric cannot be used under water and in high altitude but in normal conditions as it has high destructive power causing it to burn longer.” The scientist added, “Though an advanced version of Arjun is awaited, this effective ammunition will increase the destructive power of the tank in its current version.”
DRDO authorities said that during the development phase, this ammunition was evaluated against different simulated targets like armour plates, concrete structures and fortifications. The trials were conducted jointly with Army and were aimed to demonstrate the effectiveness of the ammunition on derelict tanks fitted with instrumentation to measure the shocks, blast pressure and temperature at various locations and on advanced imaging systems.
The press release said, “The trials were unique as for the first time such evaluation is carried out in India which will give a quantum jump in the firepower of Arjun tanks. The technical trials were witnessed by directors of HEMRL, Proof and Experimental Establishment (PXE) and Directorate of Quality Reliability and Safety, Army representatives and other senior officials from the DRDO.”