Indian Army’s artillery getting modernised to deal with adversaries: Sources | The Financial Express

Indian Army’s artillery getting modernised to deal with adversaries: Sources

The focus of this whole process has been on indigenisation under the Make in India initiative. All the gun systems being used by the Indian Army in the last five years have been designed and developed in the country except the Ultra-Light Howitzer.

Indian Army’s artillery getting modernised to deal with adversaries: Sources
Amidst the ongoing border standoff between the troops of Indian and Chinese armies since May 2020 in eastern Ladakh, the K9-Vajra self-propelled howitzer which weighs around 50 tonnes has been deployed by the Indian Army. Images Credit: DRDO

The modernisation of the Artillery of the Indian Army has gathered momentum with several important projects in the pipeline. And guns made in India are now being operationalised in the High Altitude Areas along the northern borders and along Line of Control.

The focus of this whole process has been on indigenisation under the Make in India initiative, this means now all the gun systems being used by the Indian Army in the last five years have been designed and developed in the country except the Ultra-Light Howitzer.

What is Artillery?
According to sources in the defence establishment Artillery consists of missiles, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), guns and rockets. The UAVs have the capability to launch munitions far beyond the power and range of the infantry firearms.

Dhanush
In 2019, the Indian Army had signed a deal to procure 114 Dhanush 155 mm/45-calibre towed howitzers. These guns which have a strike range of 38 km have already been inducted in the Indian Army which has got 18 of them so far. These guns which were manufactured at the erstwhile Jabalpur-based Gun Carriage Factory (GCF), at a cost of Rs 14.50 crore, and each shell at Rs 1 lakh, are already active along the borders of China and Pakistan.

And, according to the source quoted above, by March 2023 the Army is expected to induct the second regiment of this gun.

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With this gun Indian Army’s fire power has been augmented and paved the way for development of private gun manufacturing industry in India. The factory already has Bulk Production Clearance (BPC) for the production of 114 Dhanush, country’s first indigenous 155mm x 45 calibre artillery gun.

Before induction the gun had undergone trials and tests under extreme conditions in different phases in terrains like Leh, Sikkim, Balasore, Odisha, and Babina in Jhansi.

So far the indigenous material in this gun is around 90 percent and the private as well as public sector has been part of this project and these include: SAIL, BEL and OFB. The Indian Army, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and DGQA are all part of this project.

This gun has been mechanically and electronically upgraded on the basis of the first phase of Transfer of Technology (ToT) deal under the Bofors contract of the 1980s.

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K-9 Vajra
Amidst the ongoing border standoff between the troops of Indian and Chinese armies since May 2020 in eastern Ladakh, the K9-Vajra self-propelled howitzer which weighs around 50 tonnes has been deployed by the Indian Army. These guns which are capable of firing 47-kg of bomb at the higher altitude have been deployed to help the Army to strengthen its position against the enemy.

According to the source, so far 100 K9 Vajra gun systems have been inducted and recently, DAC headed by defence minister Rajnath Singh has already given its approval for procurement of additional 100 K9 Vajra. And the process is set rolling and the Request for Proposal is going to be sent out soon.

Since these guns are already inducted in the army, there will be no further trials, now the vendor just has to submit the commercial bid and based on that the cost negotiations will take place.


These guns are deployed in desert areas, now the Army intends to deploy them in extreme cold temperature and for this the vendor will be asked to install winterization kits that include: lubricants, oil, and protection of battery, among others from freezing in the sub-zero temperature.

These 155mm/52 calibre guns which have a striking capability of 50 km have been made at the Armoured Systems Complex of Larsen and Toubro (L&T) located in Gujarat. It is under the ‘Make in India’ initiative at a cost of Rs 4,500 crore.


Sharang
This 130 mm gun system with a life and technology enhancement has a better accuracy, range, and consistency corroborating Indigenous Defence Capability.

The Army is getting prepared to get the 4th Regiment. The total volume required is 300 and this is expected to be completed in a year’s time. The source added that 15 Regiments are to be equipped with the Sharangs. And, “there is a need to upscale our capabilities and capacities, whether it is OFB, DPSUs or any other.”

Pinaka weapon system
The indigenous more advanced Pinaka weapon systems are in offing, said the source and informed that a contract for six more regiments have been signed by the Army and soon the delivery will start. And these six regiments are going to be equipped with mechanically and electronically improved weapon systems which are capable of firing different ammunition over longer ranges.

When will the Army be independent from importing Rocket Systems?
“We have dependence on Grad Multi Barrel Rocket launchers. Presently we have five regiments and Smerch which has been procured from Russia. But, the indigenous Pinaka has been a great success, not only in terms of launchers but also in bouquet of ammunition.”

Soon there will be trials for extended range of the Pinaka and the plan is to increase its range. With the help of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) the Army is exploring the possibility of extending the range to 100-125 kms.

In response to Chinese positioning of its artillery, the Indian Army has deployed one regiment of the Pinaka Rocket System along the Line of Actual Control in the northern borders. Financial Express Online has already reported that DAC gave approval for Guided Extended Range rockets for Pinaka.

Loitering Munitions
Loitering Munitions has proved their deadly effects in various conflicts globally.

For the Indian Army it will be through Emergency procurement. Last year the Army signed a contract and the delivery is expected to take place shortly. Also, the process of making it indigenously is on.  And Indian companies are working on it and some are working together with Original manufacturers and soon they will master the technologies involved in this.

Once loitering munitions are inducted it will help in augmenting the army’s target acquisition and precision strike capability and surveillance.

ATAGS
These are in the advanced stages of trials. And have been designed and developed through a partnership between DRDO and the domestic industry. This system has many firsts to its credit, said the source. It has a 25 litre chamber, long range, and sustained and rapid rates of fire. The user trials so far have been satisfactory and few procedural issues are in the midst of being taken care of.

Ultra-Light Howitzers M777
These have already been validated in the Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh regions. So far there are no plans to procure more of these Ultra-Light Howitzers. So far India bought 145 ULH at US $ 750 million from the US to address specific operational requirements in specific sectors especially in the high altitude areas of northern borders and other tough terrains. These 155 mm/39-caliber M777 howitzers have a range of up to 30km. And they are capable of carrying out  strikes at ranges of over 40 km in some areas.

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