The 155mm/45-caliber Dhanush towed artillery gun, the 155mm/52-caliber tracked self-propelled K9 Vajra-T weapons, the M777 ultra-light howitzers, updated Sharing guns, the 105mm/37-caliber Indian field guns, and the Pinaka rocket systems were among the heavy guns used in “Exercise Topchi-2023.”
With a variety of indigenous artillery guns, rocket systems, and ammunition deployed along the contested Line of Actual Control (LAC), where the Indian and Chinese armies have been locked in a protracted dispute for more than 32 months, the Indian Army on Sunday put on an impressive firepower display at the expansive field firing range in Maharashtra’s Devlali.
The elite School of Artillery’s grand display of the army’s capabilities, code-named “Exercise Topchi-2023,” included a number of large-caliber weapons, including the most recent 155mm/45-calibre Dhanush towed artillery gun, 155mm/52-calibre tracked self-propelled K9 Vajra-T guns, M777 ultra-light howitzers, upgraded Sharang guns, 105mm/37-caliber Indian field (155mm denotes the diameter of the shell and calibre relates to barrel length). HT was given a pass to see the performance.
The goal of the exercise, according to Lieutenant General S. Harimohan Iyer, commander of the School of Artillery headquartered in Devlali, was to highlight indigenous capabilities and advancements made toward establishing self-reliance in the defense sector. “Atmanirbharta is reaching unprecedented heights in defense. The Indian army is prepared for any obstacle, he declared.
The Indian Army Display
The 155 mm FH 77 BO2 guns, also known as Bofors, the 155 mm Soltam guns, the 130 mm M46 guns, the Russian-made Grad BM 21 multi-barrel rocket system, unmanned aerial vehicles, weapon locating radars, mortars, helicopters, and various surveillance systems were also on display during the two-hour show. In order to strengthen its capabilities along the China border, the Indian army is planning to introduce more artillery weapons, longer-range rockets, and loitering munition at the time the drills were conducted.
Artillery Capability Upgrade
More K9 Vajra-T weapons, more Dhanush guns, and the new 155mm/52-calibre advanced towed artillery gun system (ATAGS) would be added as part of the artillery capabilities upgrade, according to Iyer. In order to scale up their capabilities to face battlefield difficulties, artillery units are also getting ready to introduce precise ammunition, loitering munition, unmanned aerial vehicles, and reconnaissance and observation equipment.
Dhanush pulled artillery weapons
At the 2017 Republic Day parade, the weapon made its debut. They are produced by the Jabalpur-based Gun Carriage Factory, cost 14.50 crore each, and have a 38 kilometre range. The long-range artillery gun, also known as the desi Bofors, is the first one to be produced in India and is hailed as a “Make in India” success story. The army is planning to raise a second regiment with 18 weapons by March 2024 after already operationalizing the first Dhanush unit at the China border.
K9 Vajra-T guns
Private defence company Larsen & Toubro and South Korea’s Hanwha Techwin produced the guns in India. Following winterization upgrades because the weapons were originally purchased for a desert role, some of the army’s 100 of them have already been deployed in the Ladakh sector under a 2017 contract worth $720 million. The army intends to purchase 100 additional K9 Vajra-T weapons.
M777 ultra-light howitzers
In November 2016, India paid the US $750 million for 145 M777 howitzers. The first artillery pieces to be ordered following the Bofors affair in the late 1980s were the M777s. Sling-loaded to helicopters, the 155 mm/39-calibre howitzers may be quickly deployed to high-altitude regions. 25 ready-made howitzers from the M777 maker BAE Systems were delivered, and the remaining guns were locally constructed in cooperation with Mahindra Defense as part of the Narendra Modi administration’s “Make in India” project.
The modernised Sharang artillery cannons are a crucial component of the continuing modernization of the artillery. A fourth Sharang regiment is now being raised, and the army eventually expects to have 15 such regiments. The Sharang project entails converting the army’s outdated 130mm M46 towed artillery pieces of Soviet origin to 155 mm/45-calibre specifications. The improved weapons have a greater terminal efficiency and a range that has been increased from 27 km to 37 km.
The army intends to enlist ATAGS by the end of the year. Last year, at the 75th Independence Day celebrations at Red Fort, the indigenous howitzer was employed in addition to the British guns that are customarily used for the occasion for the ceremonial 21-gun salute. The ATAGS (advanced towed artillery gun system) project, which aims to replace outdated army weapons with contemporary 155 mm artillery cannons, was started by the Defence Research and Development Organization in 2013. The 48 km-range gun was created in collaboration with two commercial companies, Bharat Forge Limited and Tata Advanced Systems Limited.
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