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The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has officially confirmed the development of the Arjun MkII, the next iteration of India’s indigenously developed main battle tank (MBT). This announcement comes after the successful order of the Arjun Mk1A variant by the Indian Army.

Defence experts familiar with the program told and shed some light on the rationale behind the Mk1A. They explain that the Mk1A served as a bridge between the older Mk1 variant and the more extensively upgraded MkII. The significant changes envisioned for the MkII necessitated the creation of the Mk1A as an interim solution.

The Arjun MkII will be a significant improvement over its predecessors. A key feature is the redesigned turret, which will be 3-4 tons lighter than the existing version. This reduction in weight translates to a more agile tank. Additionally, the overall weight of the MkII is expected to come down to a much more desirable 63 tons, compared to the 67 tons of the Mk1A.

The MkII is expected to be powered by the indigenously developed DATRAN V12 turbocharged diesel engine. While some MkIA units might utilize the 1400 hp MTU 838 Ka 501 engine, the DRDO is prioritizing the DATRAN V12 as the primary power plant. The DATRAN engine is currently under development and is expected to be ready for production by 2026.

With the Futuristic Main Battle Tank (FMBT) not anticipated for production until after 2030, the DRDO will continue focusing on developing upgraded Arjun variants. The MkII is expected to complete its development by 2026-27, providing the Indian Army with a more capable and lighter MBT in the interim.

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