Indian Army draws lessons from Ukraine war, revises artillery requirements

In the revised Artillery profile, the Indian Army is going for more self-propelled and mounted gun systems.

Updated - September 17, 2023 07:48 am IST

Published - September 17, 2023 12:15 am IST - New Delhi

The Army has embarked on a plan to make 155 mm the standard calibre of all artillery guns, a defence source said. Photo: Photo:

The Army has embarked on a plan to make 155 mm the standard calibre of all artillery guns, a defence source said. Photo: Photo:

Drawing lessons from the Ukraine war, the Indian Army has revised the profile of its Artillery regiment, with focus on a mix of mobility and augmented long-range firepower.

The Army expects to achieve its target of converting the entire artillery to medium 155 mm gun systems by 2042, a defence source in the know said.

“The Regiment of Artillery has done a detailed study along with the Operations Branch. In the revised Artillery profile, Army is going for more self-propelled and mounted gun systems,” the source said. “Firepower is a major battle-winning factor. Manoeuvrability is alone not enough unless supplemented or complemented by firepower.”

The Army has embarked on a plan to make 155 mm the standard calibre of all artillery guns, and the source said that the plan for “mediumisation with indigenous guns is likely to be completed by the year 2042.”

The source said that the first lesson learnt was that of firepower being a “battle-winning factor” and the need for a judicious mix of guns and missiles. Another important aspect is that the time, from acquiring the target to shooting, had gone down from five to 10 minutes to a mere minute or two.

The war also brought out the matter of increased survivability, the source said, referring to reports which suggested that Russia had lost 5,000 guns and rocket systems so far.

There is a need for methods for force preservation as well as to adopt shoot-and-scoot techniques. “The Russia-Ukraine conflict also shows that we need to be prepared for such a prolonged war,” the source said, pointing to the strong defence industrial ecosystem that Russia has. “We need our own indigenous industry based on our capabilities and more importantly have the capability for surge.“

Outlining the priorities for the Army’s artillery, sources said that in addition to the mediumisation of guns to 155mm, the focus is on development of rockets and missile regiments with longer ranges and precision, development and modernisation of munitions with increased ranges and accuracy, reorganisation of surveillance and target acquisition (SATA) units for efficient surveillance, data management, coordination and targeting tasks, and development of effective sensor-shooter networks and processes.

After a long gap, the Army inducted the M777 Ultra Light Howitzer (ULH) in November 2018. It has since inducted all 145 guns contracted. In addition, 100 K9-Vajra Self Propelled Guns have been inducted and the Defence Acquisition Council has approved procurement of 100 more. “Limited trials have been conducted for that and the contract is expected very soon. Based on it we may go for more guns in future,” a source said.

The Army has also placed orders for 114 Dhanush guns, indigenously upgraded based on the Bofors guns, and 300 Sharang guns, which are upgraded from 130mm guns to 155 mm. This is referred to as upgunning.

The Army currently has seven M777 ULH and five K9-Vajra regiments.

In addition, Request for Proposals (RFPs) have been also issued for two more gun systems — 155mm/ 52 calibre Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) and Mounted Gun System (MGS). The MGS has crew and ammunition onboard the vehicle and has shoot-and-scoot capabilities, officials said. The Army is looking for around 300 guns.

The Advanced Weapons and Equipment India Ltd., created after corporatisation of the Ordnance Factory Board, is upgrading 300 130mm M-46 guns to 155mm, which was originally to be completed in four years but is running behind schedule. The Army has so far inducted one regiment. With the conversion, the range has gone up from 27 km to over 36 km.

In addition to guns, there is a major focus on indigenisation of munitions, officials said, stating that four types of munitions were currently under trials.

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