|Manufacturer:||Heavy Vehicles Factory, Avadi|
|Product type:||Armoured Vehicles|
|Name:||Modernization of the vehicle|
In August 1961, following the evaluation of competing British and German MBT designs to meet an Indian requirement for a new MBT to be manufactured in India, an agreement was signed between Vickers (now Vickers Defence Systems) Limited of the UK and the Indian government. This agreement covered building prototypes in the UK, supplying 90 production tanks and building a new facility at Avadi, near Madras to undertake production of the Vickers MBT. The Indians call the tank the Vijayanta, or Victorious.
The first two prototypes were completed in 1963 and one was sent to India and the other retained in the UK for development work. The first production tanks were delivered from Vickers' Elswick works in 1965. The first Indian "Vijayanta, which was mainly built from components supplied by the UK, rolled off the production line at Avadi in January 1965. Since then India progressively undertook the production of more and more of the tank and eventually almost all of the tank was produced in India.
Production of the Vijayanta has now been completed after about 1,800 (although some sources have given figures varying from 1,200 to 2,200 units) vehicles were built. Full details of the Vijayanta tank are given in the UK section under the Vickers MBT. It is estimated that the Indian Army now deploys 12 regiments of the Vijayanta MBT.
Early in 1981, the then Marconi Radar Systems was awarded a US$6 million contract for its SFCS 600 tank fire-control system for the Vijayanta MBT with a US$6 million option for additional systems. Each contract was for 70 systems making a total of 140, but the option on the additional 70 systems has not been exercised.
The Tank Electronics Support Centre at Madras is now producing the Bharat Electronics Tank Fire-Control System Mk 1A (AL 4420) for the Vijayanta.
The Mk 1A features an improved sight mount and a fire-control linkage designed to minimise the play between the sight mount and linkage and between the linkage and the 105 mm rifled gun. A muzzle reference system is also provided to check and correct misalignment between the gun and sight axes caused by thermal deformation.
Bharat has also developed the much more sophisticated Mk 1B system (AL 4421) which incorporates a British Barr & Stroud (now Pilkington Optronics) Tank Laser Sight and a computer to increase first round hit probability.
Extensive trials have been conducted on two repowered Vijayanta MBTs and the configuration has been accepted by the Indian Army for introduction into service.
In mid-1993, Indian sources stated that, as the Arjun had been delayed, the programme to upgrade part of the Vijayanta MBT fleet, which was originally proposed as far back as the early 1980s under the name Bison, was to go ahead with up to 1,100 vehicles to be upgraded.
It is uncertain as to whether all of these will be upgraded to the same standard. The modifications are said to include:
(1) Installation of the T-72 M1 MBT diesel engine
(2) New fire-control system
(3) Additional passive armour
(4) Passive night vision equipment, including thermal sights
(5) Land navigation system.
The fire-control system is understood to be the Yugoslav SUV-T55A which was originally developed for the Russian-designed T-54/T-55/T-62 MBTs. Production of these will eventually be undertaken in India by Bharat Electronics and up to 600 systems will be procured.
The armour to be fitted to the Vijayanta is believed to be the advanced Kanchan composite armour fitted to the Arjun which was designed by the Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory at Hyderabad.
Although the Vijayanta is essentially the Vickers Mk 1 MBT, fully described under the UK, Indian specifications differ from those of the latter in some areas and Indian sources have provided the following information.
The Indian Army is believed to have about 100 Catapult self-propelled guns in service. This is a Vijayanta chassis with an additional roadwheel either side. The turret has been removed and the chassis fitted with a 130 mm M-46 field gun firing over the rear. The weapon has limited traverse and about 30 projectiles and their associated charges are carried. Available details of this system are given in the Self-propelled guns and howitzers (tracked) section later in this volume.
A Vijayanta MBT chassis fitted with the British Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Limited GBT 155 turret with a Royal Ordnance Nottingham 39 calibre ordnance underwent extensive firepower and mobility trials in India. This combination was not, however, adopted for service by the Indian Army.
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