The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has unveiled an 130mm self-propelled gun system, built based on the ARJUN Main Battle Tank (MBT) MK-1 chassis: The ARJUN Catapult Gun System, developed by the DRDO lab Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE).
CVRDE director P Sivakumar explained that the catapult features advanced technologies of the ARJUN MBT automotive system, along with the 130mm (SP) M-46 gun system. “It offers the users a self-propelled system with excellent fire power, high mobility and required protection. The catapult will meet the interim and immediate requirements arising out of the replacement of two regiments holding Vijayanta Catapult Guns, by extending the life of 130mm guns,” he said.
Tipped as the fastest project of the DRDO, the ARJUN Catapult had its first field development trials in November 2012, four months after receiving the order from the Army. The project cost is estimated at Rs15 crore. The gun and related ordnance systems for the catapult are being supplied by the Army. The CVRDE has developed one catapult for user evaluation trials. A user-assisted General Staff Qualitative Requirements (GSQR ) trial of the system is likely to be held at the Pokharan Field Firing Range in Rajasthan during April-May 2014.
Some new features of ARJUN MBT MK-II being incorporated into the catapult systems will also be evaluated during the crucial GSQR trials. The Army is expected to place an order for 40 catapult gun systems.
“The catapult can engage enemy artillery systems, heavy tanks and mortars. It can annihilate enemy manpower and tanks at their concentration area. It can also destroy permanent earth defensive installations and other strong field type fortifications, in addition to shelling enemy rear installations,” said K Sreethar, Head - Artillery, CVRDE. He said the ARJUN Catapult has better stability, accuracy and consistency. “The gun barrel is mainly used to engage in indirect fire up to a maximum range of 27.4 kilometres. It can also be fired directly on targets up to 1.4km range. It can be fired at various angles of elevation as well. The catapult has STANAG Level II protection (a NATO standardisation agreement) for the crew. It has low silhouette and has integrated fire fighting detection and suppression system.” Ergonomics using anthropometric data of Indian troops has been kept in view while designing the fighting and engine compartments. Embedded with a global positioning system, it would also feature night vision devices for both the driver and the commander.