The Indian Army has undertaken a momentous decision to modernize its fleet of 1,400 T-72 M1 tanks by outfitting them with the state-of-the-art Explosive Reactive Armour, ERA Mk2. This upgrade aims to enhance their defence against contemporary anti-tank guided missiles, as well as High Explosive Anti-Tank and Kinetic Energy ammunition. Currently, the fleet of 1,400 T-72 M1 tanks is equipped with the ERA Mk1.
Through a successful collaboration between the High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL), the Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory (DMRL), and the Combat Vehicles Research & Development Establishment (CVRDE), the ERA Mk-II has been developed for integration into the T-72 tanks and the upcoming Arjun MBT Mk2.
The ERA Mk2 consists of two primary subsystems: reactive elements and armour panels. The tank’s structure allows for the installation of panels of varying sizes, with provisions for incorporating reactive elements within these panels. The panels are securely affixed to the tank using welding fixtures and mounting structures. While the number of reactive elements differs across panels positioned in various locations, their size remains uniform. The ERA utilizes explosive material in the form of sheets for optimal effectiveness.
Officials from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) have shared details of the user trials conducted on the ERA Mk2. These trials, conducted in four phases from November 2015 to January 2016, evaluated the performance of the ERA Mk2 against a range of threats, including 84mm and 125mm HEAT rounds, Milan warheads, and AMK-339 ammunition.
The ERA Mk2 demonstrated exceptional performance against shaped charge warheads and kinetic energy projectiles, surpassing the capabilities of its predecessor, the ERA Mk1. This remarkable achievement can be attributed to the enhanced explosive properties and advanced armour materials incorporated into the ERA Mk2.
The decision to upgrade the T-72 tanks with the ERA Mk2 underscores the Indian Army’s commitment to fortifying the protection and combat capabilities of its armoured fleet. By equipping the tanks with advanced ERA technology, the army aims to strengthen its defensive capabilities against modern threats. The successful development and evaluation of the ERA Mk-II exemplify India’s indigenous research and development prowess, achieved through collaborative efforts between the HEMRL, DMRL, and CVRDE.
As the upgrade process commences, the Indian Army will significantly enhance the survivability and combat effectiveness of its T-72 tank fleet. The integration of the ERA Mk2 will provide an additional layer of protection against contemporary anti-tank threats.