It may not always be necessary to go to rugged terrain to watch the main battle tank Arjun or the Russian made T-90 tank trundle past majestically.
All it takes is a trip to Avadi. Residents from a cluster of colonies – including Central Reserve Police Force Colony, Rajiv Gandhi Nagar and Brindavan Nagar – are treated to such sights regularly, because main battle tanks (MTBs) pass through these localities as they carry out trail runs.
The CRPF Main Road is a important route for the trial run. It is on this road that the MBTs attract the most number of onlookers. After school hours, children gather at a junction to have a look at these tanks. Some of the children even run behind the speeding tanks, while others cover their faces with cloth as the dust on the Road envelops them.
“It (the movement of the MBTs) is part of our lives. We have been seeing these MBTs for generations,” said Sheikh Moindeen, a resident of Brindavan Nagar, Avadi.
According to defence sources, every day, on an average, at least 30 trial runs are carried out by a series of MBTs, especially by T-90 tanks between the Engine Factory of the Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF) and the trial ground of Directorate General of Quality Assurance (DGQA) in the neighbourhood. The distance between the Engine Factory and the sandy trail ground is around five kilometres. Invariably, each tank will have a guide and a gunner in addition to a driver. The driver in the cockpit is assisted by the guide (who is usually from the Army) in the commander’s seat, which is on the left side of the vehicle and the gunner is above them. Formed as a part of routine checks, the trial run is monitored by experts at HVF and DGQA to check different tasks including speed, durability and mobility. The tasks assigned to the trial runs are based on the recommendations of the DGQA to test the quality of the new components attached in these tanks. While the design and development of the components is done by the Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVR&DE) in Avadi, the production part of it is done by HVF. “Unlike CVR&DE that has a test track on its premises to test proto-types, HVF have to take them to the separate trail ground,” said a defence source.
Specialised tracks with square-shaped rocks have been laid along the route for the trials. The route passes through the main road that connects different residential areas. The stretch is equally divided with one half of it laid with bitumen for other vehicles including MTC buses and cabs, while the other laid with hard rocks for MBTs. “Earlier, the entire route including the main road was laid with the hard rocks for the trial runs. However, due to repeated pleas by the residents and the municipality, bitumen was laid on one half of the main road to allow the other vehicles to use the stretch,” said S. M. Nazar, chairman, Avadi municipality.