Indian Army is looking at mounted gun systems that will be easier to manoeuvre in high-altitude terrain, said Director-General of Artillery Lt Gen TK Chawla on Monday.
A request for Information for more than 800 such guns was issued by the Indian Army earlier this year as mounted guns can be deployed in various terrain – plains, mountains, high-altitude areas, desert and semi-desert regions.
While India had placed an order for 145 ultra-light M777 howitzers towed guns at the cost of approximately $750 million in 2016, Chawla said that more than half of the ordered guns have already been delivered, which shall be a part of seven regiments, out of which three of them are already operational. As per the official, the 155-mm artillery piece shall be deployed along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
To provide navigation, pointing and self-location, a digital fire-control system is being used by the M777 howitzer, facilitating it to be put into action quickly.
On the 45 calibre Dhanush howitzer being manufactured by the Ordnance Factory Board, Chawla said that the Indian Army had already given an indent for 114 guns in 2019.
Another project, the Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS), developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), had its firing trials in July and August in Pokhran. As per Chawla, “some parameters were achieved, some needed further improvement”.
The ATAGS is equipped with an all-electric drive ensuring reliability and minimum maintenance over a long period along with features like high mobility, quick deployability, auxiliary power mode, advanced communication system, automatic command and control system with night capability in direct-fire mode. The gun is said to be two tons lighter than those in the same category.
The Indian Truck-Mounted Gun System
A Mounted Gun System (MGS) has been developed by the Gun Carriage Factory (GCF) Jabalpur in collaboration with the Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML). The 8×8 Tatra truck-mounted howitzer based on Dhanush Gun, which is based on the Bofors, has been in testing since 2018. With a range of over 40 km, the gun has a modular design and has a GPS aided Inertial Navigation System. The guns capability includes shoot and scoot, all-weather, and can be fired by day and night.
The base vehicle, the BEML 8X8 TATRA truck features an all differential lockable and powerful 300KW engine, that provides it with a power to weight ratio of more than 10KW/ton. The Tatra high mobility vehicle is equipped with independent wheel suspension and swinging half axles for enhanced cross-country mobility. The truck has a cruising speed of 80Km/hr on-road and more than 30Km/hr in cross-country. it can cruise at a range of 1000Km without refuelling.
The shell used in the 155mm 52Cal with targeting equipment can fire approximate 42Kms. The onboard ammunition storage capability is 18 rounds of HE shells as well as 18 BMCS and 2-6 chargers.
Field Artillery Rationalisation Plan
The Indian Army developed a Field Artillery Rationalisation Plan (FARP) post the Kargil War in 1999 to streamline the procurement/development of Artillery weapon systems. Under the FARP, the Army plans to standardise, streamline the procurement, and development of approximately 3000 pieces of Artillery, across five categories. The categories include 1580 towed gun systems, 814 mounted gun systems (MGS), 180 self-propelled wheeled gun systems, 100 self-propelled tracked gun systems and 145 ultra-light air-portable howitzers (ULH). The Army has standardised the calibre for all future Artillery gun procurement to 155 mm.