Sunday, August 1, 2010
DRDO's Combat Vehicle Development Unit is working overtime
The Combat Vehicles Research & Development Establishment (CVR&DE) is working overtime to supply a range of frontline hardware to the Army.
The unit at Avadi, on the outskirts of Chennai, tasked with the design, development and testing of tracked combat vehicles and specialised tracked vehicles, has several projects in hand. Apart from the focus on Arjun Main Battle Tank (MBT) Mark II, it is also designing and developing the state-of-art futuristic main battle tank (FMBT), which is expected to cater to the requirements of the Army. "The Army expects the FMBT to be ready by 2020," CVR&DE director P Sivakumar told TOI recently. The unit is one of the 52 research units of the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DR&DO) in the country and the only one in Tamil Nadu.
Mobile platforms for missiles is another arena where its expertise is sought. For nearly a decade, it has supplied these platforms for missiles, including Akash, Prithivi and Trishul, and is presently developing several more.
Casualties are inevitable in battle and the CVR&DE's armoured ambulances come in handy. Equipped with airconditioning and heating facilities, it is designed for speedy evacuation of casualties and has excellent mobility for operation in various terrain. Another piece of equipment is the Carrier Command Post Tracked BMP-II (CCPT), designed to function as a self-propelled (SP) artillery command post. It affords nuclear, biological and chemical protection and protection against small arms. "We recently got an order for 50 CCPTs, each costing around Rs 3-4 crore," Sivakumar added.
The CVR&DE's dream project, at the conception stage, is the Unmanned Track Vehicle (UTV) through the tele-operated method the improved version is the automatic method. It is based on a wheeled vehicle platform comprising a pilot system unit and two units for surveillance. The UTVs, mainly for surveillance and detection of mines, include remote operations on wirless LAN (land area network), vision systems and robotic manipulator. A miniature model with a range of five km has been developed and will be operated with a GIS-based auto vehicle tracking system.
Bifurcated from the Ahmednagar-based Vehicles Research & Development Establishment (VR&DE) and formed as an independent laboratory in 1976, the CVR&DE has come a long way. Over the years, it has not only catered to the Army's needs but also supplied to the other services, especially the air force. It has designed aircraft subsystems, mainly related to the engine and hydraulics. For the Light Combat Aircraft (LAC), it has developed 10 prototypes of the secondary gear boxes and is conducting user trials. It expects orders for production soon.
The unit with a present strength of 1,300 employees, including 290 scientists, is credited with designing and developing some of the best military hardware in the world. Among them are the Arjun Main Battle Tank (MBT) Mark I and Mark II, Ex-Tank (Experimental tank) and Combat Improved (CI) Ajeya Mark I, indigenously-developed T-72 tank with an advanced fire control system and high mobility. It is currently the mainstay of the armoured corps.