Around 0:20 - Vanakkam and welcome to the show, .... Today is republic day and on this happy day, if you're wondering where we've brought you, we're at CVRDE at Avadi, where India's defence research org is. If you are curious about exactly what is special at this place, please follow us.
0:45 The first person we are going to meet is the Director of CVRDE, Dr. Pa. Shivakumar, we can ask him for lots of good information, come on in.
1:15: About DRDO, you said, we need to know about it. Can you tell us a bit of information about DRDO
Dr: Shivakumar: Well if you look at India, we have various ministries. One of the important ministries is the Defence ministry. In the ministry of Defence, we can say there are four major wings. One is Department of Production, another one is Quality Assurance, another one is all Services (i.e.) Army, Navy, Airforce etc., and the R&D wing, that is DRDO, and DRDO is headed by a Scientific Advisor to Defence Ministry, he is heading that. If you look at the main role of DRDO, it is to fulfill the requirements of all users, whether it is Army, Navy, Airforce, it has to be fulfilled. If you look at DRDO today, we have 52 labs total spread out throughout the country. Starting from the needs of the army soldier's cloth, to the nuclear sub, aircraft, missile, tank etc., whatever the user needs, all the research, development, trials, evaluation and delivery for production environment is done initially by DRDO, which is the main focus. Today, if you look at DRDO, the 54 labs, 1.78 lakhs crores amount R&D developed products are now in production, so it shows the strength of DRDO.
Around 2:45 (then she asks about the two tanks behind her, actually she asks about "the two matters")
If you look at India, there are two main projects. One is Main Battle Tank, Arjun, another is light combat aircraft, Tejas. CVRDE is proud to be involved in both projects. MBT Arjun Mark - I, that's what you're looking at over here (on right side). This one, after all kinds of trials were finished and the user acceptance trials, we've delivered 2 regiments, almost 120 tanks, deployed to the border and operational. Army is very happy about them. After looking the the performance though, Army wanted some more improvements, because today world is improving a lot, so after you add the latest technologies, you can bring about another tank, so here we have Arjun mark II (on left side) -- this has 19 major improvements and 69 minor improvement points. So total 85 improvements together, we added on this tank (Mark I) and we made it as a MBT Mark II. The speciality is that within 2 years, we could come out with a product. So for Arjun mark I, people say we took 20 years for it, but if you look today, we are very strong, because we learnt how to do it all and so we can prove that we can do it fast, in just 2 years we produced this new tank and it is almost done with user trials and MBT Mark II, we are expecting more numbers shortly.
4:00 Ok, so Indian Army will start using this weapon soon?
Dr. S: definitely
So, could you let us know about the special features of this tank (MBT mark II)
Major thing if you look, you may have seen missiles, like ones from DRDO are surface to surface, surface to air etc. But now we have tank fired missiles, we actually proved there is such a thing on Arjun in 2004. Army said we want this for production and so one of the important capabilities of Mark II is that it can fire missiles. Besides that, there is this thing called Commanders Panoramic Sight. Tank's most important leader is the commander. He has to know what is happening with 360 degree surveillance, should be able to see at day or night, so all these improvements, we have done in the commander's panoramic sight. One more improvement is the RCWS - Remote controlled weapons system, that is the loader can sit inside and can fire at low flying targets. Besides all this, look at the front and you'll see a track with mine plow. If you look, mines are the biggest problem today for the army. Not only outsiders, but also insiders create problems. So to remove these mines out of the way, we have this track with mine plow. One more thing is that if you see this (indicates a shape) shaped thing on top on the chassis and turret, that is the ERA - explosive reactive armor. Its purpose is, if you have a chemical energy weapon, how to protect the tank. We've made many improvements like this. The Arjun MBT mark I weight is 62 tons, mark II is 68 tons, but performance of Mark II is still better than Mark I, so we've done improvements in the mobility also.
Reporter: Ok, you've told us how you've put the best improvements in here, what else is new and improved in the Indian Army in 2015, is there something you are going to implement?
Dr. S: If you look at manned vehicles, we have Arjun Mark I and Mark II, but we are also planning for the futuristic tank. It can be the next generation main battle tank. How we are going to design and produce the next gen MBT, we've already done some feasibility studies, we've almost started development of subsystems also. So that is the future plan.
Reporter: So from your point of view, if you compare India with other countries, where do you think we've improved?
Dr. S: Good example is Arjun MBT Mark II. Today if you look around the world, for this type of tank technologies, I'm proud to say that Arjun Mark II is one of the leading ones. That shows we have good technologies, and within DRDO, CVRDE, combat vehicle development, we can do it very fast too, prime example is mark II. So definitely from tank point of view, we're definitely ahead.
Reporter: Ok, so R&D usually takes long time, but you've managed to get this done in a short time, so how do you make this a success.
Dr. S: Normally, for research, it takes some time to come to some stage. Now that we've attained that stage, from now on, we can deliver very fast. That's why I said, Arjun Mark II - 2 years, Catapult - 1 year, reason we can do all this is because we have sound basics.
Reporter: on this republic day, special occasion, what would you like to tell the audience.
Dr. S: First thing we need from education perspective is a questioning capability (i.e.) students should ask questions. Students are all studying and getting good marks, but what is lacking compared to other countries is we lack the questioning mindset, that is the first point. Second point is that basic research is missing. Basic science research. So younger generation should concentrate more on R&D, it is very essential from country's point of view. So Kalam says that by 2020, India should become a developed country then, basic research is very important.
Around 8:30 Reporter: after learning all matters about this tank, I've gained respect about it. Now I desire to go for a ride, please follow me.
After some difficulty, I got in this tank and now that I'm in, I'm safely seated inside it. While I'm standing or sitting inside it, I have this divine feeling, because so many people put in hard work and I feel blessed to be in it and am thrilled.
9:30 Reporter: Arjun Mark I and II, Dr. Shivakumar explained some details about them. To learn more, we are going to talk to Program Director Balamurugan. Hello sir. We are eager to learn more information about this tank.
Balamurugan: What you're looking at here is Arjun Mark I tank, CVRDE's main product. We developed this well and users did lots of trials on it. If you look at this tank, it has firepower and it can aim accurately and take out an enemy tank, then it has mobility to get to an enemy tank, also it has protection, if the enemy tank attacks us, we can still continue to fight back. With all these 3 combined, we have developed this tank.
Reporter: Ok sir, can we know about the Mark II.
Balamurugan: What you're looking at here is Arjun MBT Mark II. Behind the development for this tank, there are a lot of stakeholders, apart from DRDO. Director has told you a lot about DRDO, but besides DRDO there are a lot of others input involved too. There you see mark I, if you look at improvements for Mark II over Mark I, 5 agencies consulted together to make this in 2010. We decided on 85 improvements and we only started development in 2010. But if you look, by 2012, we fielded one prototype. It is a big matter to put a tank together in only 2 years. I've told you about numerous improvements over Mark I, because of these improvements, this is one of the world's leading tanks, comparable to any tank in the world, this is one of the best.
11:22 Reporter now talking to Additional Director Mr. Balaguru. Everyone has been telling us about this tank's numerous special features. What do you want to say about this model?
Mr. Balaguru: If you talk about any tank, there are two major systems: Chassis and automotive system. What you're seeing down below, that is chassis and automotive system.
On top of that, we have turret and weapons system. So to take the turret and weapons system anywhere, cross country etc. to give it mobility, that is the job of the chassis and automotive system. So inside this, we have protection as well as firepower. So once we've integrated all these systems together, you have a tank.
Reporter: So you've told us the basic matters about this tank, now can we take a look inside.
(they climb on top)
Mr. Balaguru: What you're looking at here is the driver's compartment. In other vehicles, the driver's seat is adjustable. In here, there are two adjustable positions: head out and head in. When in a battlefield, driver goes inside and everything is closed and that is the head in driving. Outside the battlefield, the seat can come up for head out driving. Without looking at the equipment, the driver can drive without vision equipment, just by looking outside.
Reporter: Now can I take a look inside.
Mr. B: Of course.
Mr. B: Can you see the steering? In the center there is the brake pedal, right extreme is the accelerator pedal, like in the normal automobiles. In the front are two displays. That's the dashboard, with the speedometer and all vital parameters related to mobility will be displayed.
Reporter: Besides the straight view, there is also a side view...
Mr. B: Yes, you can view the complete profile in the front. This here is the day periscope. Besides that, we have the DNS - Driver's Night Sight. You can drive with this even in pitch dark conditions.
Reporter: yes right, so you can see clearly in any weather conditions and any kind of lighting.
Mr. B: Yes we can drive anytime
13:34: Reporter: So you've told us about driver's side oart, but tell us the part where you aim the missiles
Mr. B: This here is the crew compartment or fighting compartment, I already mentioned it earlier. What you're seeing here (points to left side) is the commander's hatch (i.e.) it is a door. From here, the commander of the tank, he will sit here. Now if you look inside the hatch, you will see a seat there, that is the gunner's seat. That's the one that aims and fires the gun. The commander, as the director mentioned, will do 360 degree surveillance with CPS (Commander's Panoramic Sight) and pick the next target and tell the gunner. The seat (pointing to the right hatch), that is the loader's seat. If you ask what a loader does, he takes the ammunition (from the back) and loads the gun. The place where these three people sit is the crew compartment or fighting compartment. This is where all the aiming devices and displays are all here.
14:30: Reporter: Now they've told us some interesting details of Arjun tanks, it was very useful. Now for electrical subsystems ...
Lady (caption says her name is Birbavathi, Additional Director (ELECTRICAL)): If you look this tank is a monster, a 60 ton monster. First, we have starting and generating system. To start this, we have 8 batteries inside. Each one is 100 ampere-hour. We have them hooked in series parallel combination for a total of 400 amp-hour, 24 volts. This is all DC because we can't use AC for mobile applications. You might have noticed in the driver's compartment, for the first time ever, we have introduced a digital display inside this tank. Before this, it was all analog displays. Now in latest cars, you have the CAN bus, in this tank here, we have also digitised the engine control. So, from the driver's compartment the signals go to the engine compartment and feed back comes back and so on. All of this comes under electrical system.
15:30 Reporter: Now to tell us more, Additional Director of Running Gear System, Dr. Solomon is with us. Please tell us about the speciality of the running gear system.
Dr. S: If you look at the speciality of this, the suspension system, this is one of the latest advanced systems in the world. This is a hydro-gas suspension system. If you look at this tank, it is a cross-country vehicle. Unlike other vehicles, this cross country vehicle, as a battle tank, it has to go over different terrain: boulders, rocky terrain, river terrain. It has to go over all places, it has to negotiate all ground undulations, that is why we have here this track system. This track is a mobile platform, or we can call it a mobile roadway. So this whole tank rolls on the tracks. If you look at this suspension system, it has very soft cushioning. So the crew and the sophisticated equipment are very safe inside. One more thing is this tank's main requirement is firing accuracy. To achieve this firing accuracy, the main reason is the running gear system, because it provides what we call "primary stabilization". Because our stability is good, that is why our gun is also very accurate. Also if you look, this track is a rubberized track. It is a steel tread, but you can take this tank on normal paved roads as well and it won't damage the roads. It is actually rubber padded and if you look at a wheeled vehicle, the same concept like rubber tires, we have these rubber pads here (embedded in the tracks). It won't damage the roads and also, we have this thing called High Frequency Vibrations, these pads will absorb them as well and because of this, the crews inside will experience good comfort.
18:00: Reporter: We've learned lots of details about this tank, now we want to learn about communications:
Lady (caption says her name is Savitri and she's Additional Director (COMMN & IT): When we talk about communications, internal communications is by wired, external communication is via wireless. If you look at this wireless communication, we can talk over total of 40 km, though we really only need range of 25 km. In that 25 km., if you look, this communication has two parts. That is, if you look at tank roles, there is gun tank, control tank, command tank, different roles, so depending on the role the communication is different. So if you look at gun tanks, from one tank to the next, there is very little distance between them, like 500 meters apart. So when they are that close, wireless communication doesn't need to be high powered. So with a 5 watt radio set, for upto 5 km. range, we can use 5 watt radio set. But the same radio set also has a high power option. When we flip it to 50 watts, then then we can talk over longer ranges, like 25 km. So if you look at this, a squadron commander, in a regiment there are 3 squadrons, and each squadron has 12 + 3 tanks and they
can talk within themselves, then they can also communicate from one squadron to another and throughout the regiment, we can also establish a network of communication. We can do both voice communication and data communication from one tank to another. Also I talked about intra tank communication which is wired, one crew member can talk to another crew member and they can also transfer messages, similar to how we transfer messages in cell phones. Say I cannot talk because there is some secret that I don't want to talk about with voice, or say the driver can talk to commander and commander can talk to gunner, but driver doesn't need to be distracted by the details to the gunner. We can also send messages from one tank to another, we have comm. facilities for that also.
20:45: Reporter: Sir, this place looks different. What is going on here?
Gent (no name caption or title given): Here in this simulator, we provide training. Because to give training with an actual tank is a costly proposal. Therefore we've created this simulator, so a battle tank commander, gunner, driver etc. we can give them training right here. So if you give us a fresh Army jawan recruit, we can give them all training in this simulator. For example: for a driver, how to drive the tank and cross different obstruction conditions, how to drive under different environmental conditions, all this practice can be done in this driving simulator.
Reporter: May we see the process?
21:25: Now here, if we're really driving a tank, what you feel here is what you'll experience there. So if he applies the brake here, you'll feel the forward movement. When he climbs that obstacle, you'll feel the same vehicle disturbance that you feel in reality. (to off screen person) Please drive over there slowly. See, in between the path there is a ditch, he will climb over that as well and you'll feel the effect and the scene changes with the driver's actions and the vehicle disturbances, we synchronize all of this. It is a challenging task to do this, but we've done it all indigenously. In India, this is the first troop training facility ever.
22:15: Reporter: This is a visual treat. Normally training looks a bit boring, but this type of training looks real interesting. And what is this coming up herehere.
Gent: This is a water obstacle. We call this a fording exercise. If you look on the side, it is a rocky surface. And when you travel over a rocky surface, you feel a disturbance. Now we're completely in the water and when you float in the water, immediately it feels different, as if like a floating object.
Reporter: Yes,yes I can feel it
Gent: And now when we come out again, we feel the jerky movements. So we've worked out the vehicle dynamics in an excellent manner.
22:55 Reporter: We hope you've enjoyed watching our full day tour. So we've come to this spot and learned what these hard working people are doing and such a large process is happening here. When we hear about war, we think of all the brave people fighting in the armed forces, but behind them there is this mind and this technology and the people working towards its success, that I feel proud about and I have to salute the people working here. Until then, this is Kritika telling you all bye ...