Elusive Guns: Brig S.K. Chatterji (Retd)

Discussion in 'Indian Army' started by Kunal Biswas, Aug 29, 2012.

  1. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    The Chinese have created enough infrastructure in Tibet and linked up their assets on the plateau with Pakistan through the Karakorum highway. The enhanced capabilities have forced the articulation of a possible two front war that we may be faced with, someday. The acceptance of such a threat has impacted on our otherwise slow decision making process adequately enough to speed up infrastructure development in the Northeast and raising of two additional infantry divisions. However, a critical component that is central to realisation of full combat potential of our army, remains unaddressed, largely. We have not been able to procure a single artillery gun since we purchased 400-odd Bofors 155mm Howitzers 25 years ago.


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    At the moment we are saddled with guns of various calibers and indifferent vintage in our inventory. The Indian 105mm Field Gun and its lighter variant for the mountains are the basic field guns. The Russian 130mm guns are the backbone of our medium artillery, with the Swedish Bofors 155mm howitzers, complimenting them. We also have the 120mm mortars that need an upgrade. There is a smattering of other calibers that make little or no difference to the larger inventory.
     
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  3. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    Our approach to selection of guns has been in tune with most modern armies that are switching to 155mm caliber as the basic equipment. Standardisation of caliber has definite payoffs in terms of logistics to include the aspects of production, storage and transportation of ammunition. It allows flexibility and transfer of ammunition, especially in the operational area, from a neighbouring fire unit to another fire unit running out of ammunition, thus keeping the intensity of firepower delivery at the rates called for.

    Recognising the need for both standardisation and upgradation of equipment, the Ministry of Defence had approved the artillery modernisation plan. However, all efforts at procurement lie in tatters, now. The contracts worth approximately Rs 1,900 crore being pursued for approximately 2,000 pieces of 155 mm guns, have all but been dumped. Four variants of 155 mm guns were being sought, the largest segment of which was the towed variety comprising approximately 1,850 guns. The balance was constituted of ultra-lights howitzers for employment in mountainous terrain, tracked self-propelled guns for mechanised battle groups in the desert and wheeled self-propelled models.

    Almost every gun manufacturer globally, capable of manufacturing such sophisticated guns has been black listed by us on some or the other grounds. However, none of the cases has been taken to its logical conclusion. The fact of whom did they collude with and who were the officials who received the favours, has been the sole secret that seems to have been preserved, in a country where leaks do not pile up to the volumes of Wikileaks. They flow regularly as breaking news.
     
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  4. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    Notwithstanding the setbacks that it has experienced, the artillery has had some substantial accretions in the past few years. The upgradation of fairly large numbers of 130mm guns to 155mm caliber has been undertaken satisfactorily. Our rocket artillery was limited to 122 mm Grad 40 barrel launchers for ages. The indigenous Pinaka and the Russian Smerch rocket systems have extended our reach to 40 and 90km, respectively. Both systems are capable of devastating firepower.

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  5. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    We have also inducted the unarmed aerial vehicles of Israeli origin that serve the purposes of intelligence gathering, direction of own artillery fire as also damage assessment. The induction of better weapon locating radars has definitely given us an edge in locating enemy artillery. These systems are also capable of directing accurate fire of our guns to neutralise hostile guns. The artillery command and control systems and battlefield surveillance systems are also maturing, paving the way for greater synchronisation of artillery assets as also speedier and informed decision making.

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    Induction of the Prithvi ballistic missile systems has been a shot in the arm in as far as long range engagement is concerned. The BrahMos will be a huge leap, once inducted. Being a cruise missile undertaking most of the flight path at very low altitudes, almost hugging the ground, these are difficult to detect by even the most technologically advanced armies. As such, their chances of surviving enemy countermeasures are definitely far superior. Our capability of long range target detection through the unarmed aerial vehicles has also enhanced considerably with the protracted endurance of these systems while in flight. Combined with bonuses that accrue from the maturing of the battlefield surveillance systems and artillery command, control and communication capabilities, fuller utilisation of artillery assets is definitely possible.
     
  6. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    However, the basic workhorse of the artillery remains a good gun and we have been most inept on that score. The Bofors scam continues to haunt both the political leadership and bureaucracy. The problem is compounded by our unwillingness to probe scams and punish those who continue to trade on the sides.

    In the final count it can be said that we have the requisite numbers when it comes to guns. Numbers by themselves, however, do not mean capability. Accepting any DRDO proposals at this stage for an indigenous 155 mm gun system will lead to greater delay and consequent gaping holes in defences. If required, the foreign military sales route needs can be adopted, even if we have to pay a premium, and thus ensure systemic corruption does not enfeeble our defence forces. The private sector needs to be brought into the core of the process and build its strengths for indigenisation, hereafter.


    http://www.tribuneindia.com/2010/20101103/edit.htm#6
     
  7. The Fox

    The Fox Regular Member

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    good thread Kunal Nice read and sensible analysis and can you tell me how long is it going to take for the army to get the required number of artillery guns required and also when would they develop required infrastructure in the north eastern front facing the Chines.....
     
  8. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    To induct new guns in all regt it will take no less than 10 years, And regarding infrastructure it will take 5 years minimum..
     
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