New artillery thrust

Print edition : November 10, 2017

THE indigenous weapons system Dhanush is a prong in the troika of 155 mm artillery guns that the Army hopes to induct over the next few years as it seeks to arm itself with multiple combat capabilities across the strategic, tactical and operational spheres. All three guns—Dhanush, the highly mobile U.S.-manufactured 155 mm .39 calibre M777 ultralight howitzer (the first two of the 145 on order, in a deal worth $750 million, arrived in May and are undergoing trials for the preparation of firing tables), and the 155 mm .52 calibre tracked self-propelled K-9 Vajra (Thunder) gun system (100 on order in a $700 million deal), which will be manufactured in India by Larsen & Toubro in collaboration with its Korean technology partner Hanwha Techwin—have ranges varying from 30 kilometres to 40 km. A significant number of the M777s will be assembled in India by BAE Systems in partnership with Mahindra Defence.

The howitzers are expected to increase the Army’s capabilities in high altitude and will be deployed in the northern and eastern sectors. The Army is looking at acquiring more than 400 Dhanush guns. In addition to these three new armaments, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is developing an ATAGS (advanced towed artillery gun system). It is a 155 mm .52 calibre 40-km target range gun towed by a truck. The gun has cleared engineering trials and will be assembled in collaboration with the Kalyani Group and Tata Power. Giving a fillip to India’s deterrent will be the long-range supersonic cruise missile BrahMos, which has been developed jointly with Russia, and the DRDO-designed and L&T-manufactured Pinaka rocket system.

As part of its 1999 Field Artillery Rationalisation Plan, the Army hopes to acquire 2,800 to 3,000, 155 mm .52 calibre towed, wheeled, tracked and mounted guns and 155 mm .39 calibre light-weight howitzers by 2027. The upgrading of the 130 mm M-46 field guns is also part of this exercise.

Ravi Sharma

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