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From:  "David Isenberg" <sento@e...>
Date:  Wed Aug 1, 2001  2:45 pm
Subject:  (Pakistan) Pakistani analyst compares Al-Khalid tank with India's Arjun

Pakistani analyst compares Al-Khalid tank with India's Arjun

SAP20010801000053 Islamabad The Nation (Lahore Edition) (Internet Version-WWW) in English 01 Aug 01

[Article by Brigadier (R) A. R. Siddiqi: "HIT: rebuild to manufacture"]

    In the defence establishment itself, the development of heavy industry has created perhaps the country's largest pool of trained engineers, scientists and technicians together with the many down-stream benefits in terms of higher education, technical know-how, better job   opportunities etc.   This was confirmed for the umpteenth time during a recent visit to the giant tank rebuild and manufacture complex Taxila.  

    Sitting in the midst of the barren rocky hills around, the site enjoys natural protective cover.   The key-note of HIT's (Heavy Industries Taxila, formerly known as Heavy Rebuild Factory) fresh 'manifesto' is: 'From rebuild to   manufacture' and, through progressive manufacture, achieve a high degree of perfection and sophistication with each new model.   The first   uprated model to roll off the production line was P-85 followed by P-90 (MBT-2000) Khalid named after the famed Islamic conqueror -- Khalid bin Walid.   HITs latest gift to the nation is the modern Main Battle Tank Al-Khalid-2000 made in Pakistan in joint venture with the   People Republic of China.   The MBT a 46-tonne monster tolled with almost 85 percent of indigenous components marks Pakistan's   transition from the painstaking era of re-build into challenging field of creative manufacture.  

    Al-Khalid MBT (Main Battle Tank) marks the consummation of Project P.711 launched in the early 80s.   The first batch of 15 should be inducted into armoured formations by about the month's end or early next month.   Project P.711 purported to rebuild the Chinese T-59 inducted into the armoured units after the 1965 war as their main workhorse.   It was expanded and re-named   P.711-K (K in Chinese signifies extension), in order to (a) raise the deletion (elimination of imported components) rate to 85 percent and   (b) to establish the production base for the manufacture of whole MBTs.   Once the production line got underway no less than 100 tanks   (roughly one every fourth day) were rolling off to give us a measure of self-reliance which, at one time, had been almost undreamt of.   After   completing the first phase of P-711-K upgradation in 1997, the second phase of upgradation was launched in 1998 to give a 'technological   quantum leap' to the old T-59.   The new modernised tank was named Al-Zarrar.   Al Zarrar mounts a 125 MM smooth bore gun; 700 HP   engine; explosive reactor armour, compatible transmission, suspension and gun fire control systems.  

    The series-produced MBTs are as much a marvel of joint Sino-Pakistan venture as of sheer pragmatism unbiased by misplaced national   pride and inflated individual egotism.   This was a lesson learnt from India's wild goose chase of reliable MBT ever since 1974 when the   project was first sanctioned.   Depending overly on their own advanced industrial and defence production base, Indian scientists and   engineers undertook to do it themselves.   After a prolonged series of prototypes and pre-production models, they managed to produce an   over 60-tonne monster, named Arjun after the mythical hero of Mahabharata -- the great Hindu epic.  

    From Indian source reports, it appears the monster is more of a heavy weight than a athlete, more of flab than fire and movement.   It mounts   a 120 mm rifled gun deadly in lethal power but deficient in accuracy.   Its performance in various field trials was reported anything but   satisfactory.   In the last known trial in March 1990, the Indian army Chief General V.   N.   Sharma (retired July 1, 1990) was "quite wild"   when out of the five rounds fired only three hit the 5x5 metre target.   No hit was scored on the moving target.   The actual performance stood   in sharp contrast to the one claimed by the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) that the gun would hit a target measuring   60x60 cms at a distance of 2000 meters.   In another trial earlier in February, only four out of five rounds hit a target of 5x5 meters (a tank is   usually only two meters high) at 1100 meters.  

    Meant to be completely swadeshi or indigenous, Arjun's sub-systems are all imported.   Except for the hull and the turret, the imported   components include practically every major item like engine, transmission, tracks, suspension, gun and fire control assemblies.   Their   integration according to Indian experts "leaves" much to be desired.   For example, the auxiliary power unit imported from France would not   perfectly fit into the tank.   Similarly the 'seals' which according to general staff quality requirements (GSQR) were required to withstand   temperatures of up to 150 degrees centigrade barely measured up to 120 degree (C).   These seals were imported from Germany.   Thus a   French engine with German seals fitted into an Indian hull and a turret mounting a not too accurate 120 mm gun made quite a hotchpotch of   Arjun.  

    So much for the user and his problems.   Finance men have not been too happy either, for all the time and cost incurred.   Sanctioned at a   cost of Rs 15 crore a copy, it touched the Rs 28 crore figure in 1987 registering another 10-15 percent annual escalation ever since.   Both   the Controller and Auditor General (CAG) and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) had been critical of the project as much for the   rising cost as for the endless delays.   According to the Minister of State Dr Raja Rammana, bulk production of the MBT was to start earlier   than 1992.   It is gratifying that Pakistani experts learnt from the Indian example -- an over-rated view of available national resource and   know-how, could land even the best professionals in a mess.   This is the age of globalisation of technology and of its shared fruits.   India   failed and paid unduly, largely avoidable, heavy price for trying to do it all by itself in the vain hope of doing it better than all others.   It   sought to play the pathfinder on a beaten track where even a technological breakthrough would have meant little.  

    Known less for gloss and sophistication, much of the Chinese hardware is ungrudgingly recognised for its war-fighting utility.   The Chinese   tend to view weapons as implements of war rather than parade ground accoutrement.   A tank which is a mobile firing platform, is known for   3 things (i) maneuverability (ii) hit probability and (iii) protection.   In the Chinese order of priority protection comes last.   It should in any   case flow less from the thickness of the armour and more from the hit probability.   Enemy killed first is the best guarantee against being   killed.   Too much weight causes problems of transportation and maneuverability.   In the T series converted to P series, maximum effort has   gone into getting the machine as souped-up as possible mainly by cutting down on weight.   Just compare the 60 tonnes of Arjun with the   contemplated 44 tonnes (maximum) of the Al-Khalid-2000.  

    Some of Al-Khalid's main features are: 125 mm smooth bore, chrome plated gun, auto-loader; 1200 HP powerpack; maximum speed 65   km per hour; image stabilisation; lazer range finder; panasonic for commander sight and so on.   It mounts Ukrainian engine replaceable by   British and French engines according to the importing country's specifications and requirements.  

    HIT's management had on hand 13 different projects concurrently, as many as under the 'T' (China) and 'N' (US) series.   Starting from   P.711 (rebuild of T-59) the project moved on to the manufacture stage, developing P-70 MBT under P-711-K.   The peak of P-711K had   been the manufacture of MBT-2000 (P-90) Khalid.   P-87 project included the rebuild/manufacture of all the tracked vehicles in the M   Series.   M-113 armoured personnel carriers, M-109 and M-110 self-propelled (SP) artillery vehicles and M-88A1 armoured recovery   vehicles (ARVs).   Under P-811, licensed production of the upgraded M-113 A1 M-113A2 APCs was undertaken.   In addition to the   above mentioned four major projects the remaining nine projects are as follows:   P 882 Hull-manufacture; P 883 Turret manufacture; P 884 Engine manufacture; P 885 Gun manufacture; P 886 Flexible machinery; (Basic manufacturing facility) P 891 Management and Information System (MIS).    A W653 ARV manufacture and Oerlikon (AK AK) Austrian Gun upgradation.    P 90 (MBT-2000) Khalid.

    Lt-Gen Hamid Javaid, HIT's Director-General, his men and officers together with the experts of the North China Industrial Company are   to be congratulated for their dedication and efficiency.   The Indian planned bogged down due to an impractical and inflated vision whereas   Pakistan succeeded because of proceeding systematically and progressively from rebuild-to-manufacture to achieve much more in much   less time and at a lesser cost.

    Nevertheless, HIT's builders should see to it that whereas joint ventures help develop hardware at a lesser cost, in time and money, it is no   substitute for indigenous R & D and pursuit of pure science.   Technology is the child of science and not vice versa.   Even reverse and   imitative engineering must have broad scientific base.   Unfortunately, however, pure science in Pakistan remains incredibly poor.   It's time   our universities and centres of excellence be streamlined to match our civil military engineering colleges and polytechnics.  

    Eminent Indian columnist, Prem Shankar Jha in his column in the Hindustan Times (August 13, 1999) had been bitterly critical of the   Defence Research and Development Organisation and high-profile chief Dr Abdul Kalam.   'After 16 years of research, the DRDO has   produced a lemon', he wrote and went on to describe it a 'monumental waste of energy.'

[Description of Source: Islamabad The Nation (Lahore Edition) in English -- Independent daily, member of the Nawa-i-Waqt group]

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