Indian Army biggest firing range to get facelift

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by arnabmit, Apr 13, 2013.

  1. arnabmit

    arnabmit Homo Communis Indus Senior Member

    Dec 25, 2012
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    Mahajan Field Firing Range (MFFR), Indian Armies biggest firing range to get facelift |


    The Indian Army has given a major face-lift to its biggest firing range in the desert of Jaisalmer, where real battlefield conditions are simulated to train soldiers in the entire spectrum of war-fighting.The Mahajan Field Firing Range (MFFR) is the army’s oldest and biggest practice area in the desert close to the Pakistan border, and its revamp will boost battle preparedness of the force.

    It was an administrative nightmare for the army to move troops in the area that lacked basic facilities. As part of the upgrade plans, permanent structures have been constructed to house soldiers. A reverse osmosis plant has also been set up to provide them safe drinking water.

    The firing range has been developed into a model range based on army’s experiences of all these years. The troops can practice shooting and validate concepts on ground. It incorporates the command, control, communication and intelligence concepts.

    The army had a budget of Rs.81 crore to improve its firing ranges, out of which Rs.26 crore was spent on MFFR. The firing ranges located in Pokhran (Rajasthan) and Babina (Madhya Pradesh) will also be upgraded in the second phase.

    The Mahajan firing range now has mobile targets moving on rails for the tanks. The army still cannot practice manoeuvres in the region for which it has put up a case for building another facility. After the expansion, the MFFR can now be used by 17 to 18 army units simultaneously as against only eight to nine units earlier.

    The army has been facing acute shortage of firing ranges, with only 40-odd sites available for practice in the country. The number of firing ranges was well over 100 at the time of Independence. Swelling population and ever expanding cities have put constraints on the state governments to part with their land for the use of army.

    A whole range of weapons from small arms to artillery guns and tanks are used in the training programmes, which are essential to validate war-fighting concepts. Apart from the Indian troops, exercises with friendly foreign armies are also held in these ranges.

    Officials said state-of-the-art facilities were now in place at MFFR with permanent structures being put up for better training. In the absence of these facilities, holding an exercise was a gigantic administrative exercise as arrangements had to be made for troops in the middle of desert. That part has now been taken care of, and the soldiers can now focus solely on the exercises.

    India has one of the best training facilities and a number of countries in the world have shown interest in utilising these establishments.

    The army still lacks manoeuvering ranges for practising moves by tank formations. It is seeking two ranges – one near Jaisalmer and another in Narainpur in Chhattisgarh. Both proposals are stuck because of land acquisition issues.

    The army is also actively pursuing a project to have indoor firing ranges. These practice areas, known as baffle ranges, are considered safer. However, these are meant only for small arm fire.

    Only 40-odd firing ranges in the country

    The Indian Army’s strength is over 1.1 million, but its troops have only around 40 ranges to practice live firing. Most of the ranges are used for infantry and artillery fire. There is a dearth of ranges where armoured manoeuvres can be practised.

    There were more than 100 firing ranges at the time of Independence, but the number dwindled drastically, as the state governments are now reluctant to extend lease of land because of pressures of the ever-growing population. The notification of around 55 ranges out of 92 field firing ranges (FFRs) in different states has expired. In the eastern command, the lease of 14 firing ranges has expired, while central and southern commands will no longer have seven ranges each. The western command has lost five ranges and the southwestern and northern commands lost two each.

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