Check out Indian Army's awesome artillery firepower
Sources in the defence establishment said that all gun systems procured in the last five years or are being procured, have been developed and designed in the country only, barring the Ultra-Light Howitzer.
With several projects now in the pipeline, the modernization process of the Indian Army's artillery wing has gathered momentum in the last couple of years. At the same time, the government has been pushing ahead with its agenda of indigenization.
In this effort, sources in the defence establishment said that all gun systems procured in the last five years or are being procured have been developed and designed in the country only, barring the Ultra-Light Howitzer.
Artillery consists of guns, rockets, missiles and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. It launches munitions far beyond the range and power of infantry firearms. Let us know about the latest development in the Indian Army's artillery wing:
In the wake of the ongoing border standoff with China in eastern Ladakh, the Indian Army deployed the K9-Vajra self-propelled howitzer weighing 50 tonnes that can fire 47-kg bombs at a higher altitude to strengthen its position against the adversary last year. It should be noted that the two forces have been locked-in standoff since May 2020.
The Army has inducted a 100 K9 Vajra gun system, and Rajnath Singh-headed DAC has given approval for procurement of an additional 100 K9 Vajra. The source said that the process had been set rolling, and a request for proposal (RFP) would be issued very shortly. He also stated that there would be no trials taking place. The vendor would only have to submit the commercial bid, and then the cost will be negotiated.
Since the earlier plan was to deploy the K9 gun system in the deserts, the Army will, this time, ask the vendor to install winterization kits that include protection of the battery, lubricants, and oil, among others, from freezing in the sub-zero temperature.
The 155mm/52 calibre guns were made at the Armoured Systems Complex of Larsen and Toubro (L&T) in Gujarat under the 'Make in India' initiative at the cost of Rs 4,500 crore. It has a striking capability of 50 km.
Indian Army had inked a deal to procure 114 Dhanush 155 mm/45-calibre towed howitzer with a strike range of 38 km in 2019. So far, it has inducted 18 gun systems into its artillery.
The source further added that the second regiment will come up by March 2023. Like K9 Vajra, the Dhanush is also operationalised along the northern borders in high-altitude areas.
It has been electronically and mechanically upgraded on the basis of the first phase of the Transfer of Technology deal under the Bofors contract of the late 1980s. It is being made by the Jabalpur-based Ordnance Factory Board in Madhya Pradesh.
It is a life and technology enhancement of the 130 mm gun system and has better range, accuracy and consistency, corroborating Indigenous Defence Capability.
It is in the process of the fourth regiment. "I expect two regiments in a year to be produced. The total volume is 300. There are 15 regiments that are to be equipped with the Sharangs. We need to upscale our capacities and capabilities, whether it is OFB or DPSUs or whatever."
The source said that loitering munitions had a deadly effect on the ongoing war in the Armenia and Azerbaijan conflicts. On its procurement, he said: "We procure through the Emergency Procurement. Last year, we signed a contract, and that delivery is shortly going to take place, but in this also we are working on indigenization so there is a Make II proposal for an aerial targeting system. So that we don’t have to go back to foreign OEMs in such kind of capability."
"The Indian companies are working on it. Some of them are working with foreign companies, but I am sure they will be mastered these technologies soon."
Its induction would augment the force's surveillance, target acquisition and precision strike capability.
The Advanced Towed Artillery Gun Systems or ATAGS, are in the advanced stages of trial and will soon be a reality. Designed and developed through a successful partnership between DRDO and the domestic companies, the system has many firsts to its credit -- 25-litre chamber, long-range, and rapid and sustained fire rates. So far, the user trials have been satisfactorily conducted, and a few procedural issues are being taken care of.
Pinaka weapon system
The source said that an indigenous, more advanced Pinaka weapon system is in the offing. He informed that the Army had inked a contract for six more regiments, and delivery would commence soon. All these six regiments will be equipped with electronically and mechanically-improved weapon systems capable of firing a variety of ammunition over longer ranges.
On being asked about when the Indian Army will be independent of imports of rocket systems, he said: "Still, we have a dependence on grad multi-barrel rocket launchers. We have five regiments, and we also hold Smerch procured from Russia, but I must say that the Pinaka has been a great indigenous success not only in terms of launchers but also in the bouquet of ammunition."
"We are at very advanced stages and more than 45km range. We are shortly going to have trials of the guided extended range of the rockets manufactured within the country," he said, adding, "We are very hopeful that the results are very encouraging it is entirely an indigenous effort within the country of this Pinaka rocket system. With guided extended range, we reach the range of 75 km, and in our discussion with DRDO, we have asked them to explore the possibility of extending it to 100-125km range."
One regiment of the Pinaka rocket system has been deployed along the Line of Actual Control in the northern borders in response to the Chinese positioning of its artillery. For Guided Extended Range rockets for Pinaka, the DAC has given the approval. These rockets would be capable of firing at longer ranges with significant accuracy.
Ultra-Light Howitzers M777
ULH operation has been validated in the Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh regions. A total of 145 ULH were bought at USD 750 million from the United States to address sector-specific operational requirements, especially in the tough terrain and high-altitude areas of northern borders.
"As per the field artillery rationalisation plan, there is no proposal to procure more ULH, but you never know what happens," he said. The 155 mm/39-caliber M777 howitzers have a range of up to 30km. But it can also carry out strikes at ranges of over 40 km in some areas where the geography allows the shells to fly in rarefied air.