Military & Aerospace

Visualised Indian Artillery Considering Threats from China and Pakistan
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Issue Vol. 31.1 Jan-Mar 2016 | Date : 03 Aug , 2016

BAe's M777 155mm Lightweight Field Howitzer

The Regiment of Artillery needs to expedite its modernisation process particularly with regard to guns and ammunition. All our guns are more than 25 years old and need to be replaced. The first platform likely to be inducted possibly would be the 155mm M777 Ultra Light Howitzer on a Foreign Military Sales Programme from the United States. These would be about 145 pieces which would enable about eight regiments. These guns would be an asset for the Mountain Strike Corps being raised shortly.

Artillery is a combat arm which has proved its worth in the four wars that India has fought…

Artillery is a combat arm which has proved its worth in the four wars that India has fought as also the Kargil Conflict of 1999. Artillery has also maintained our ascendancy of fires across the Line of Control (LOC) and Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL). It spoke volumes when Pakistan undertook a unilateral cease fire in 2003 due to our accurate engagement of critical targets along the LOC. Yet we have to be prepared for a two-front war against China and Pakistan. It is indeed a difficult task particularly to provide firepower simultaneously on both the fronts. To undertake operations under such conditions, Artillery must be prepared to modernise and enhance its force structure to enable preponderance of firepower.

The task of the Artillery regiments would be to provide surveillance, leading to a judicious selection of targets, appropriate engagement of these targets and further undertake Post Strike Damage Assessment to confirm the state of the target and undertake further engagement to ensure destruction of the selected target. This would require surveillance and target acquisition equipment as also guns, mortars, rockets and missiles. It is pertinent to note that China and Pakistan are modernising their Artillery with state-of-the-art equipment. To match their capabilities we need to modernise our Artillery with speed and military precision.

Modernisation of Firepower in the Indian Context

China and Pakistan are leaving no stone unturned to modernise their armed forces. China has issued ten White Papers and professes peace. However, big nations have big ambitions and their intentions are unknown. Accordingly, India must be prepared to undertake operations in all five dimensions be it land, sea, air, cyber and outer space. Firepower has a place in all these dimensions and Artillery forms an important component of firepower, The Indian Army modernisation plan aims to develop prioritised capabilities through induction of high technology weapons and acquisition of force multipliers with a focus on creation of a lethal, agile and networked force to meet future security challenges.

China and Pakistan are leaving no stone unturned to modernise their armed forces…

Overall, despite multifarious views, India has to be prepared for a two-front war which could comprise cyber attacks, destruction of satellites, overwhelming use of firepower and multiple incursions. To strengthen our Army we need to modernise which entails induction of critical technologies. Therefore, there is a requirement to enhance capabilities across the spectrum to include the following:

  • Battlefield Transparency.
  • Battlefield Management Systems.
  • Night Fighting Capability.
  • Enhanced Firepower.
  • Precision Guided Weapons.
  • Integrated Manoeuvre Capability.
  • Combat Aviation Support.
  • Network Centricity.

Emphasis is also being given to make up deficiencies, upgrade existing platforms, improve infrastructure in border areas especially along the Sino-Indian border and focus on human development to harness cutting edge technologies. A new Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) that has been formulated to expedite acquisition of equipment is to be issued shortly as per the Minister of Defence Manohar Parrikar.

A new Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) that has been formulated to expedite acquisition of equipment is to be issued shortly…

Composition of Artillery

The role of Artillery is to destroy/neutralise/suppress the enemy by synergised and orchestrated application of all fire assets at selected points of decision to physically and psychologically degrade enemy cohesion with the ultimate aim of breaking his will to fight. It is an arm which can attack the centres of gravity which impact the fighting capability of the enemy. To undertake the task, Artillery equipment is based on guns, rockets, missiles and surveillance and target acquisition equipment. The Artillery equipment would be based on the operational requirement of the Indian Army catering to threats in conjunction with terrain.

With regard to guns it would be to enhance the calibre and give the Indian Artillery a 155-mm (52-calibre) as the basic gun replacing the existing 105mm and 122mm field guns. This would provide enhanced range and greater throw off at the target end. There would be other variations which would comprise 155mm Self Propelled Track Regiments for the Armoured Divisions in desert terrain, 155mm Self Propelled Wheeled for mechanised forces in riverine terrain, 155m mm Mounted Gun System for the same force to operate in semi-desert terrain and the 155mm Ultra Light Howitzer for operating in mountains as also Out of Area Contingencies. In addition, there would be regiments of light artillery of 120mm with greater range and capability to move or be mule-packed based on the requirements of the terrain. Furthermore, the rocket regiments would be a mix of GRAD, Pinaka and Smerch units. There would be regiments equipped with the super-sonic cruise missile BrahMos which would be configured for all types of terrain. This merits attention as the Artillery has to be effective at high altitudes, in jungles and in deserts.

Surveillance forms a major component of the responsibility of Artillery regiments. Artillery needs to provide surveillance cover to formations operating all over the country. The Surveillance and Target Acquisition (SATA) Regiments would be scaled at the Corps level and SATA Batteries at the Division level. The surveillance philosophy will guide the future sensor profile of these regiments. Surveillance will focus on battlefield transparency with emphasis on depth battle. Furthermore, it must be disseminated in near real time.

Modernisation of Artillery equipment would have to be a systematic process…

The essential surveillance equipment would comprise:

  • Thermal Imaging Integrated Observation Equipment.
  • Long Range Reconnaissance and Observation Equipment.
  • Battle Field Surveillance Radar – Short, Medium and Long Range.
  • Weapon Locating Radars.
  • Sound Ranging System.
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

The composition of Artillery equipment has been planned up to 2027 which would be the culminating year of the 14th Five Year Plan. It would enable the Regiment to build its capabilities systematically over a defined period.

Process of Modernisation

Modernisation of Artillery equipment would have to be a systematic process. Indian Artillery is currently in a Network Centric Warfare (NCW) environment and has to provide Surveillance and Reconnaissance resulting in target acquisition which would lead to engagement which needs to be monitored to undertake Post Strike Damage Assessment and ensure that the target is destroyed. In NCW, Artillery shapes the battlefield, degrades enemy’s war waging capability, destroys his field defences, communication sites, logistics echelons thereby paralysing him and thus accomplishing our mission.

The Artillery Regiment is 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 which consist of four types of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). These are the Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE), Heron UAV and Short Range UAVs Searcher MK I, Searcher Mk II as also four indigenously built Nishant. These UAVs have been operationally optimised and are an extremely useful tool for surveillance. Our current holdings are minimal and their numbers need to be enhanced. The DRDO is currently developing a MALE UAV Rustom which will possibly be inducted in the near future.

Artillery equipment needs to be profiled in accordance with the terrain on which it is to be employed…

The SATA units are currently equipped with Medium Range Battlefield Surveillance Radars (MBFSR) and Weapon Locating Radars (WLR). The MBFSR currently held is the ELM 2140 which is able to detect tanks, vehicles and troops. They are held in minimal quantities and been exploited by mobile masts. The WLR currently held is the ANTPQ-37 which has been optimised with a reasonable degree of success. Furthermore, SATA units are equipped with Long Range Reconnaissance and Observation System (LORROS). This equipment has excellent day and night surveillance capability and has proved its effectiveness in operational areas. The SATA units also have a passive weapons locating system known as Sound Ranging. The system currently held is old and needs to be replaced by state-of-the-art equipment. Bharat Electronics in conjunction with DRDO has developed a Weapon Locating Radar which is undergoing evaluation of trials.

As regards guns, the Regiment is equipped with Field, Medium, Self Propelled, Light and Medium Regiments. The Field Regiments possess either the 105mm Indian Field Gun/Light Field Gun or the 122mm Field Howitzer. The Medium Regiments possess 130mm Medium Gun, 155mm Bofors Medium Gun (39 calibre) and a few regiments of Soltam Guns. The Self Propelled Regiments are equipped with 130mm Catapult and the Light Regiments are equipped with 120mm Mortars. There is also a Heavy Mortar Regiment equipped with 160mm Mortars. The Regiment of Artillery is holding rockets and missiles. The rocket regiments are equipped with 122mm GRAD BM -21 rockets, 214mm Pinaka Rockets and 300 mm Smerch Rockets. The Missile Regiments are equipped with the super-sonic cruise missile BrahMos which has a range of 290 km.

Apart from this, the Regiment hold a variety of ammunition to include High Explosive, Smoke, Illuminating, Cargo, Kransopol Precision Guided Munition (PGM), Terminally Guided Sub-Munition and Fuel Air Explosives. While the surveillance equipment, rockets and missiles are modern, the guns and ammunition are reaching obsolescence and need to be replaced at the earliest. The Regiment has started the process of inducting Artillery Combat Command and Control System for state-of-the-art communications between the Observation Post and Guns.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Maj Gen PK Chakravorty

former Additional Director General Artillery.

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9 thoughts on “Visualised Indian Artillery Considering Threats from China and Pakistan

  1. I’m wondering if the ammunition will be NATO Std? Also will there be upgrades to 58 Caliber? New NATO equipments will have longer range with greater caliber weapons and rocket assist smart projectiles for precision fires.

  2. India suffered lot of casualty’s in the Kargil war; this is the fact that the Pakistanis had weapon locating Radar? The Pakistanis were able locate your weapons and direct fire on to your Artillery. It does not matter what amount Artillery India has if you are not able to knock out the other side. If India has not learned how to knock out the enemy Artillery then the ground troops will suffer Heavy casualties, the Chinese and the Pakistanis will make it hard for India and do much damage.

  3. Every country is interested to modernize its Armed Forces and India is no exception. There is a long shopping list with Indian Artillery Commanders in a quest of modernization of Artillery equipment but there should be some end. Notions like “India has to be prepared for a two-front war against China and Pakistan” is an impressive theme to attract the attention of Indian Parliamentarians but Indian military Commanders and strategists should never forget that China has already issued a White Paper desiring peace with its neighbours including India. On the other hand Pakistan has already signed agreements with India and does not believe in strike first or an offensive strategy. One needs to understand that foreign powers are misleading New Delhi about India and Pakistan hegemonic military designs.

    With regard to Indian desire purchase 155mm M777 Ultra Light Howitzer from the US, New Delhi should learn lesson from US-Pakistan military pacts including CENTO and SEATO, which provided that the US-military aid would not be used against any third country other than Soviet Union. There is requirement of a clarification before spending public money, if India can use this equipment against Pakistan. The point should be retained in our minds that Pakistan, China and India as well as other countries are neighbours so they should live in peace and try to settle their difference rather than creating tense environment of mistrust and suspicion.

    • I fully agree with Hari Sud. This is a stereo- type article and does not carry any new information. He does not know weapon locating radars will become out- dated once India made the GPS operational. Dhanush gun fitted with equipment to use GPS. I do not think India need any new equipment to fight against China and Pakistan. The China’s adventure at south sea is militarily good for India. So long India keeps good relation with the USA, we need not worry about China and Pakistan. Why is China not able to recapture Taiwan? It is not easy to fight against the USA. A war against the USA will jeopradise the development of China. We requre stream lining the war stratergy with the make in India policy. Army should use all terrien armoured vechicles to minimize war casualitry. Why is IAF using six types of fighter air plnaes. when they are not able to procure spares and cannoblizing the axsiliary equipments to keep the aircraft in service. Canniobilizing the equipment may caue more failures.

      • You are dream land when you say India does not need to worry about Pak-China. Situation could change anytime. Besides you must be as strong as your enemy and you have 2 enemies on your border with whom we have had wars.. It is logical to prepare and cannot get complacent based of some form of speculation.

    • Afzal: sorry but you are misled by your country. China can never be trusted. Just because they have a white paper does not mean they will not attack India. China did attack in 1962 after signing peace treaty with India. please educate yourself. Secondly Pakistan has the official ‘First Use Policy’ but India does not. This means Pak could attack with its nukes anytime. While India will not attack until attacked first by any nation. There is a big difference. Please go beyond your governments propaganda and read about the realities.

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