Friday 07 August 2020, 03:00 AM
Indian Army''s artillery modernisation goes desi
By Sushil Sharma | Bharat Defence Kavach | Publish Date: 12/19/2019 3:04:04 PM
Indian Army''s artillery modernisation goes desi

The Army's artillery modernisation plan envisages procuring 2,800 guns by 2027. The plan included procuring 1,580 towed guns, 814 truck-mounted guns, 100 tracked self-propelled guns, 180 wheeled self-propelled guns and 145 ultra-light howitzers. Of these, only the mounted gun system and the wheeled self-propelled gun are left to be procured. Rest all have fructified under the Narendra Modi government.
 
Indian Army's artillery modernisation has now turned desi with the focus on 'Make in India'. After buying two artillery guns from foreign sources in the last six years, India is now going to buy India-made guns on a large scale to boost Indian industry in the private sector and technology in the public sector.At a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council in December 2017, the government decided to procure 20 guns each of the 155mm Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) from the Tata Power SED and Bharat Forge. That would make a regiment each of the two-gun systems.
 
Each of these regiments would exploit the guns supplied by the two Indian private sector companies first to test their performance and based on the response from the users, the government will go in for buying one of the two guns on a large scale to meet the requirement of the Indian Army's Regiment of Artillery.
 
Thus, this public-private partnership between DRDO and the private sector defence firms has worked out very successful in the development of the ATAGS. For the DRDO, engaging the private sector in the project has resulted in a rich return on investment. The production order for the guns is expected to be in the range of Rs 30,000 crore, as the requirement of the Indian Army is quite huge - at least 2,000 guns, once either of the gun is decided to be the chosen one. Each of the guns is expected to cost Rs 15 crore.
 

While ATAGS is going to help the Indian Army with a longer-range artillery weapon in its inventory -- comfortably surpassed the maximum ranges of 40-45 km, currently achieved by similar 155-millimetre, 52-calibre guns in service worldwide -- the government has already taken a giant steps in plugging the gaps found in the Regiment of Artillery over the last a decade or so, by deciding to buy two foreign-origin artillery guns: the South Korean K9 Thunder and British-American M777 ultra-light howitzer. However, the bright side to the purchase of these two foreign-origin artillery weapons is that these will be made in India for the Indian Army.
 
In May 2017, the Indian Defence Ministry signed a contract worth Rs 4,366 crore with Larsen and Toubro (L&T) for the supply of 100 self-propelled tracked artillery guns for the Indian Army. A month ahead of winning this contract, L&T had signed a deal with the South Korean company Hanwha Techwin for joint manufacture of the K9 Vajra-T self-propelled tracked artillery guns in India to meet the Indian Army's needs.
 
The approval for the K9 Vajra-T purchase had come from the Cabinet Committee on Security in April 2017. Under the contract's provisions, L&T will be prime to carry out deliveries to the Indian Army and the first lot of 10 K9 guns would be delivered within 18 months of the signing of the contract. The delivery of the K9 has already begun with acceptance trials held before December 2018. The next lot of 40 more guns would be delivered within 30 months of the deal and the rest 40 guns within 42 months of the deal.
 
The 45-km range, 155mm 52calibre K9 gun offered to India is an enhanced version of its South Korean variant and has been jointly developed by L&T and Hanwha Techwin. The gun that the Indian Army would receive from L&T would have a 50 per cent indigenous content and would be produced at the Hazira facility of L&T.
 
India broke the Bofors jinx for the first time in November 2016, nearly three decades after the scandal had felled the Rajiv Gandhi government when it signed up to buy 145 M777 ultra-light howitzers under the US government's foreign military sales route. The M777 comes from the US arm of the defence company BAE Systems. The M777, with a 25-km range, is meant for use by the Indian Army's newly raised 17 Mountain Strike Corps that is an offensive formation focusing on the hilly northern borders with China.
 

The November 2016 deal for the M777 is priced at nearly Rs. 5,000 crore and was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security. While the BAE Systems has begun delivery of the M777 guns to the Indian Army, a total of 25 guns would be delivered from the US in a fly-away condition. The rest 120 M777 guns would be assembled, integrated and tested at a facility in India, set up in partnership with the Mahindra Group.
 
While the first two howitzers were delivered within six months of the contract, the rest are to be delivered at the rate of two guns a month. The howitzers that can be helicopter-lifted were first proposed to be bought from BAE Systems about 10 years ago and the procurement has been made, even as the US arm of the global defence manufacturer was preparing to shut down its production facility for the guns.Both the K9 and the M777 guns have already been inducted into the Indian Army's Regiment of Artillery in November 2018, an event attended by then defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman at Devlali in Maharashtra.
 
The Regiment of Artillery has hitherto been equipped with Field, Medium, Self-Propelled, Light and Medium Regiments. Field Regiments possess either 105 mm Indian Field/Light Field Gun or 122mm Field Howitzer. The Medium Regiments possess 130 mm Medium Gun, 155 mm Bofors Medium Gun (39 calibre) and a few regiments of 155 mm (45 calibre) Soltam Guns. The Self-Propelled Regiments are equipped with 130 mm 'Catapult' and the Light Regiments are equipped with 120 mm Mortars. The 105 mm, 120 mm Mortar, Soltam and the Catapult is made in India while the 130 mm is being upgraded to a 155 mm (45 calibre) Gun under a ‘Make’ project, according to Major General PK Chakravorty, a retired army officer, in his commentary for Vivekanand International Foundation.
 
The futuristic Regiment of Artillery of the Indian Army will be equipped Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles and DRDO is currently building the Aura UCAV for the Indian armed forces. Though UCAVs are primarily an air force asset, it largely comes handy for the Regiment of Artillery. The Regiment is also currently equipped with a variety of surveillance devices, guns, mortars, rockets and missiles. The surveillance devices are a part of the Surveillance and Target Acquisition (SATA) Regiments.
 
The devices currently held comprise the UAVs, which are of four types. These are the Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Heron, Short Range Searcher Marks I & II, and indigenously built ‘Nishant’ UAVs. These UAVs have been operationally tested and they are extremely useful tools of surveillance. The current holdings are minimal, and the numbers need to be enhanced. The DRDO is currently developing a MALE UAV ‘Rustam’ which will possibly be inducted in the short term, says Major General Chakravorty.

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Army,modernisation,envisages,mounted,performance,modernisation,propelled

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