Indian Army retires M-46 Catapult Guns and 160mm Tampella Mortars

The Indian Army decommissioned the 130mm Self Propelled M-46 Catapult Guns and the 160mm Tampella Mortars on 16th March 2021. The catapult Guns have served the Indian Army for about 53 years. The weapons systems were decommissioned at Mahajan field firing range (MFFR). The ceremony was marked by customary firing of the last salvos. The decommissioning firing was attended by Lt Gen K Ravi Prasad Director General Artillery.

The maximum range of fire of M-46 Catapult Gun with ordinary projectiles is about 27 km and with rocket-assisted projectiles is about 40 km. The gun can fire directly up to a range of 1.4 km. Normal rate of fire was 6 rounds per minute. This self-propelled gun was capable of launching 8 projectiles in burst firing mode. The sustained rate of fire was up to 5 rounds per minute. The system could carry about 30 rounds of ammunition.

The M-46 Catapult Guns were built by the Soviet Union in the 1950’s. Indian Army began acquiring 1000 of these guns in 1968. Some M-46 catapult guns have been upgraded in India and had Indian variants.About 180 pieces were upgunned to 155 calibre by the Israeli firm Soltam in 2008. In 218, the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB)  upgraded about 300 pieces to 155 mm (45 Calibre) with a range of 39 km. The SP-130 Catapult was an India designed self-propelled version of the artillery which was mounted on the hull of the Vijayanta tank. The Soviet 130 mm M-46 towed gun was also integrated in the Arjun Mk.1 MBT chassis as a stop-gap solution.

The 9.6 km range 160mm Tampella Mortars were acquired after the war with China in 1962. They were acquired from the Israeli Defence Forces and deployed in the Northern Borders of India. The mortar was manufactured by Soltam, a Joint Venture between Israeli Solel Boneh Ltd and Tampereen Pellava- ja Rauta-Teollisuus Osake-Yhtiö’ of Finland.

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