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The Indian Army has made a crucial decision to upgrade its fleet of 1,400 T-72 M1 (CI Ajeya) tanks by equipping them with the state-of-the-art Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA) Mk-II. This upgrade aims to provide enhanced protection against modern anti-tank guided missiles, as well as High Explosive Anti Tank (HEAT) and Kinetic Energy ammunition. 1,400 T-72 M1 are currently equipped with the ERA Mk-I.

The High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL), in collaboration with the Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory (DMRL) and the Combat Vehicles Research & Development Establishment (CVRDE), has successfully developed the ERA Mk-II for adaptation to the T-72 tanks and the upcoming Arjun MBT Mk-II.

The ERA Mk-II comprises two main subsystems: reactive elements and armour panels. The tank’s structure allows for the fitting of panels of different sizes, with provisions for positioning reactive elements inside these panels. The panels are securely mounted on the tank using welding fixtures and mounting structures. While the number of reactive elements varies in panels located at different positions, their size remains consistent. The ERA utilizes explosive material in sheet form for maximum effectiveness.

Officials from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) have shared details of the user trials conducted on the ERA Mk-II. These trials, conducted in four phases from November 2015 to January 2016, evaluated the ERA Mk-II against various threats, including 84mm and 125mm HEAT rounds, Milan warheads, and AMK-339 ammunition. The ERA Mk-II demonstrated excellent performance against shaped charge warheads and kinetic energy projectiles, surpassing the capabilities of its predecessor, the ERA Mk-I. This remarkable performance can be attributed to the improved explosive properties and advanced armour materials incorporated into the ERA Mk-II.

The decision to upgrade the T-72 tanks with the ERA Mk-II underlines the Indian Army’s commitment to enhancing the protection and combat capabilities of its armoured fleet. By equipping the tanks with advanced ERA technology, the army aims to bolster its defensive capabilities against contemporary threats. The successful development and evaluation of the ERA Mk-II demonstrate India’s indigenous research and development prowess, achieved through collaborative efforts between the HEMRL, DMRL, and CVRDE.

As the upgrade process begins, the Indian Army will significantly enhance the survivability and combat effectiveness of its T-72 tank fleet. The integration of the ERA Mk-II will provide an additional layer of protection against modern anti-tank threats, reinforcing the army’s armoured warfare capabilities. This upgrade will contribute to maintaining a strong defence posture and ensuring the safety of Indian soldiers in combat situations.

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