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Indian Vijayanta Tank

Vijayanta Tank

Indian Vijayanta Tank
Unveiled / Entered Service
Catapult self propelled Gun
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The Indian Vijayanta Tank (Victorious) is a former Medium Battle Tank that was a licence built British Vickers Mk1 Tank. It served in a number of wars and under went indigenous modernisation of the Fire Control Systems. A family of variants was also developed to support it on the battlefield.

It was the first tank to be built in India and served as an early stepping stone to mass production of licence built Russian T-72 and T-90S Main Battle Tanks as well as the development and production of India's first indigenous Main Battle Tank, the Arjun.


Since its independence from the former British Empire, India has had a number of wars and boarder conflicts with its neighbours, China and Pakistan dating back to the late 1940’s. India insinuated a program of modernisation of its Army in the early 1960’s, which included visiting the UK to look at potential tanks.

At this point in India’s early history, she lacked the technical and manufacturing facilities to develop and produce Armoured Fighting Vehicles, including tanks.

India signed an agreement with British Defence contractor Vickers in 1961 to start sharing technology and help with development of the new AFV manufacturing facility “Heavy Vehicles Factory” in Chennai (HVF- now called Armoured Vehicles Nigam Ltd).

India trialled one of two Vickers prototypes of the new 46.200T tank. After some modifications, the definitive 51.025T design became the Vickers MBT Mark 1 in 1964.

India secured the rights to licence build the Vickers MBT Mark 1, now known as the Vijayanta. Vickers manufactured the first 90 tanks in the UK, whilst spares and component stock levels were built up in India ready for tank production. The Indian Army took delivery of the first 2000+ Vijayanta built by HVF in 1967.

Weighting in at roughly 39 tonnes, the Vijayanta hull was manufactured out of rolled steel and the turret of welded armoured plate, which was 80mm thick.

The Vijayanta used an all-electric gun control and stabilization system for the L7 105mm rifled main gun. The gunner had a fully stabilised sight and relied on a .50cal Machine Gun, coaxial mounted with the main gun for ranging targets. It would fire a burst of x3 tracer rounders to gage distance and wind speed.

The Vijayanta used the same Leyland L60 engine and Merritt-Wilson TN12 transmission from the Chieftain Main Battle Tank with torsion bar suspension. The driver did not sit in a reclining chair, but upright like the Centurion, with 105mm rounds stored to his left. He also had an IR vision block he would use for night-time driving.

Despite its simplicity and a number of upgrades throughout its service life, production of the Vijayanta could not meet the Armies demands and over 970 T-54/T-55 Medium Tanks were purchased from the former Soviet Union during Vijayanta production.

In the early 1980’s, India started to look for a Main Battle Tank that could replace the Vijayanta. After a number of trials, the Russian T-72M was selected and India secured the right to licence build the tank. Production of the Vijayanta ended in 1986 at HVF and was eventually replaced with that of the T-72M,  designated “Ajeya”.


Variants and Marks

Gun Tank Marks

Indian developed upgrades –

  •  Mark 1  – Initial Production model
  • Mark 1A – Featured a new Fire Control System by Bharat Electronics Limited. A total of 450 Mk1 upgraded.
  • Mark 1C – New Fire Control System featuring laser designator and thermal imaging , but did not enter serial production.
  • Mark 2 – A prototype fitted with Kanchan modular composite armour

Detroit and Rolls Royce engines were also trialled as a replacement to the Leyland engine.

Indian developed Variants

  • Catapult self propelled Gun
  • Kartik AVLB (Armoured Vehicle Launched Bridge)
  • Vijayanta Armoured Recovery Vehicle
  • Canal Embankment Assault Equipment (CEASE)


India was the only operator of the Vijayanta (though Vickers Mk1 was also exported from the UK to Kuwait). Over 2000 vehicles were built and saw combat (see below), with the hull converted into other vehicle variants and prototypes.

Combat History

India operated the Vijayanta in:

  • The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
  • The Kargil War 1999
  • The Operation Parakram 2001-2002


Main Gun
L7 105mm Rifled
Secondary Weapons
Coaxial 7.62mm Machine Gun, Coaxial 50. cal Machine Gun, Loaders Machine Gun
Ammunition Storage
105mm x 44, 7.62mm x3000, .50 x600
Leyland L60 Diesel 535 bhp
N12 semi-automatic gearbox
Top Road Speed
50 km/h
Road Range
530 km
Fuel Capacity
Vertical Obstacle
Water Capability
Trench Crossing
Side Slope
Length Gun Forward
Length Hull
Ground Clearance
39 Tonne
NBC Protected
Standard Armor(s) Type
Optional Add-on Armor(s) Type
Active Protection Systems
Commander, Gunner, Loader, Driver