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Cool kit for soldiers in tanks

Ranchi, May 5: India’s main battle tank will never be the same again.

A team of engineers, led by Suchitangshu Chatterjee, from the Ranchi-based Metallurgical and Engineering Consultants (Mecon) Ltd, has developed the technology to keep gunners cool in the confined space and for a long period.

The device, smaller than a tabletop computer, took eight years to develop. It was tested in desert conditions on India’s western front and in Chennai, where the main battle tank, Arjun, is built, says a communication from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

The army has found it suitable for use.

An elated Chatterjee told The Telegraph that only the US had the technology so far to keep a tank in motion “cool”.

Conditions inside a tank, he said, are demanding and the temperature hovers between 45 and 50 degrees Celsius. Sitting in the cramped conditions and in such heat takes a toll on the toughest of soldiers. Many gunners have suffered anxiety syndrome, loss of memory and even temporary insanity.

An airconditioner cannot be fitted in the tank, Chatterjee, a deputy general manager in the company he joined in 1987, said. Any device to be designed by the team had to be small and access energy conveniently. The device ensures continuous air-flow, through tubes, to a special costume that keeps body temperature hovering between 18 and 22 degrees Celsius. This will now protect the gunners from fatigue.

The Mecon team has also developed a pair of battery-operated gloves and socks for soldiers camping at high altitudes and in severe cold. They are yet to undergo field tests, though.

But Chatterjee exuded confidence that they would function in Siachen, where the field tests are likely to be conducted.

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