Reliance Infra is planning to deliver prototypes of the hull and turret for the Arjun Mark II main battle tank (MBT) to the Combat Vehicle Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE) six month ahead of the deadline. The prototypes are being manufactured at the company’s facility in Silvassa.

RInfra had won the contract to manufacture the prototypes in 2017 through a competitive bidding process. Other bidders included L&T, Bharat Forge, the Mahindras and Godrej.

“We are ready to deliver the hull and turret for the Arjun Mark II MBT six months ahead of schedule,” a Reliance spokesperson told BusinessLine . “This is amongst the first such projects to be awarded to the private sector in India, with the longer-term objective of creating alternative capacities and capabilities.”

The CVRDE has been looking to scale up the manufacturing capacity of Arjun tanks to meet the Army’s requirements. Private sector players were hence considered as an alternative supply line in addition to the Ordnance Factory Board, which has so far been the sole supplier of indigenous components for the MBTs.

Without disclosing the details and size of the CVRDE order bagged by RInfra, sources said the company is targeting an overall opportunity of ₹2,500 crore once mass production starts.

The Defence Acquisition Council gave the green signal for the ₹6,600-crore procurement of 118 Arjun Mark II MBTs to equip two regiments back in 2014. This will be in addition to an earlier order for 124 Arjun Mark I tanks currently manufactured by state-owned Heavy Vehicles Factory at Avadi, Chennai.

The Mark II version developed by the CVRDE was based on the Army’s recommendations following comparative trials of the Arjun Mark I and Russia’s T-90.

Indigenous components

One of the main requirements, according to experts, was to reduce the weight of the tank as well as incorporate an anti-tank missile firing capability. The weight of Mark II has been reduced to less than 50 tonnes. The updated model has over 90 improvements over the previous version. Also, it largely relies on indigenous components.