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November 30, 2011

DRDO lab looks for private players to develop tank equipment

(Indian Express) : Almost two years after the DRDO acknowledged a successful development of the Counter Mine Flail (CMF) on the ageing T-72 Ajeya battle tank platform, city-based DRDO laboratory Research and Development Engineers (R&DE), developer of CMF, has been looking for private players to develop the same.
CMF - an equipment that detonates anti-tank/anti-personnel mines - has been under development for about five years and was tested in 2009 on T- 72 platform, though with a few lacunae. DRDO sources said it was decided to start the development procedure all over again to make it compatible with other platforms such as MBT Arjun which is under development and is supposed to replace the ageing T-72 fleet.
Speaking to The Indian Express, R&DE director S Guruprasad said, “R&DE has been working closely with the Army on the development of CMF. We had successfully tested the equipment in 2009. The project is of extreme importance to the Army and they had replied with a few suggestions such as the width of the track to be cleared. We decided to make the equipment platform independent. Which means that rather than being limited to T- 72, it would be possible to integrate it with MBT Arjun, though with few modifications.” The development is expected to take about a year after the private developer is identified. He said the private player is more of a backup plan and the development would be done by R&DE. 
 
The new equipment will be designed to clear safe 4.5-metre wide lane for the passage of Armoured vehicles/ personnel by detonating anti-tank/ anti-personnel mines buried up to a depth of at least 30 cm with the help of hydraulically operated hammers. Equipped with GPS and periscope, the equipment will also have a marking system which with the help of LED poles can mark safe lanes in the battle zone after having disabled the mines laid by the enemy. Ideally, the equipment would also include 7.62 mm PKT machine gun, 12.7 mm anti-aircraft gun and smoke grenade dispenser, besides being Nuclear- Biological-Chemical protected.
A retired brigadier of the Armoured Corps, on the condition of anonymity, said, “The disconnect between the DRDO and the Armed Forces lies in the developmental delays from the DRDO side. Invariably, if the DRDO continues to give us the end-product five years later than when we want it, the specifications are bound to undergo change. This cycle of suggestions then triggers a new development cycle and the vicious circle continues.”

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