Unlike most firearms, the Zentinaya Ustanovka twin barrel 23-mm anti-aircraft cannon has a pedal for a trigger. The Russian-designed weapon of the 1960s is among the military hardware on display at the Army Mela at the Pangode Military Station grounds here.

The trigger is no different from the accelerator pedal of a motor car, except that its foot-rest is painted bright red and there is no rubber padding.

The gun is mounted on a transportable platform, which is capable of swivelling 360 degrees when stationary. Two steel seats, adjacent to one another, are the battle stations for the gunner and the spotter.

It takes at least three persons to man the gun. The spotter feeds the target information, including that of low diving enemy aircraft, to an optical-mechanical device that helps the gunner acquire his target with considerable accuracy.

A slight press of the pedal, and the twin barrels spit fire at their target. The gun stops firing when the pressure on the pedal is lifted. The 23-mm shells, including high explosive ones, are stocked in two ammunition boxes and fed to the firing system through conveyor belts. The barrels of the weapon, which become red hot, have to be temporarily replaced or allowed to cool after every 100 rounds.

A Russia- made T-90 tank, parked alongside an older and smaller T-72, is one of the major attractions at the exhibition. The T-90 is the most modern battle tank in India’s armoury.

Arguably, the star attraction of the Mela is the pavilion of the elite Parachute Regiment. Youngsters fed on military and commando action movies can get a close eye view, and perhaps even handle, the latest firearms used by the elite paratroopers.

The firearms on display at the pavilion include the celebrated M-4 carbine used by the U.S. Army and the Uzi Mini Sub Machine Gun, the Galil Sniper Rifle and the latest Tavor 21 assault rifle (acquired in considerable numbers by the Indian armed forces) of the Israel Defence Forces.