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Indian Army draws lessons from Ukraine war, revises artillery requirements

In the updated Artillery setup, the Indian Army is shifting towards more self-propelled and mounted gun systems, taking cues from the recent conflict in Ukraine. The Indian Army has revised its Artillery regiment's configuration, emphasizing a blend of mobility and enhanced long-range firepower.

The Army aims to achieve its goal of transitioning the entire artillery to medium 155 mm gun systems by 2042, according to a source familiar with defense matters.

"The Regiment of Artillery, in collaboration with the Operations Branch, has conducted a thorough analysis. In the revised Artillery structure, the Army is placing a greater emphasis on self-propelled and mounted gun systems," the source explained. "Firepower plays a pivotal role in winning battles. Manoeuvrability alone isn't sufficient unless it's complemented by firepower."

The Army has initiated a plan to standardize the caliber of all artillery guns to 155 mm, and the source mentioned that the plan for mediumization using indigenous guns is expected to be completed by 2042.

The source highlighted the importance of firepower as a decisive factor in battles and emphasized the need for a well-balanced mix of guns and missiles. Additionally, the source noted that the time between target acquisition and firing has significantly reduced from five to ten minutes to just a minute or two.

The conflict also underscored the importance of survivability, with reports indicating that Russia lost approximately 5,000 guns and rocket systems. The source stressed the need for strategies to preserve forces and adopt shoot-and-scoot techniques. "The Russia-Ukraine conflict also highlights the necessity of preparedness for protracted warfare," the source stated, emphasizing the importance of building a robust indigenous defense industry based on India's capabilities and the capacity for surge production.

Regarding the Army's artillery priorities, sources mentioned the following:

1.Transitioning guns to 155 mm caliber.

2.Developing rocket and missile regiments with extended ranges and precision.

3.Modernizing munitions for increased range and accuracy.

4.Reorganizing surveillance and target acquisition (SATA) units for efficient surveillance, data management, coordination, and targeting.

5.Developing effective sensor-shooter networks and processes.

After a considerable gap, the Army introduced the M777 Ultra Light Howitzer (ULH) in November 2018, and all contracted 145 guns have been inducted. Additionally, 100 K9-Vajra Self Propelled Guns have been introduced, with plans for procurement of 100 more in the pipeline. "Limited trials have been conducted, and the contract is expected soon. Based on this, we may acquire more guns in the future," a source disclosed.

The Army has also placed orders for 114 Dhanush guns, which are indigenously upgraded versions based on the Bofors guns, as well as 300 Sharang guns, upgraded from 130mm to 155 mm caliber, referred to as upgunning.

Currently, the Army has seven M777 ULH regiments and five K9-Vajra regiments. Moreover, Request for Proposals (RFPs) has been issued for two additional gun systems — the 155mm/52 caliber Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) and the Mounted Gun System (MGS). The MGS includes both crew and ammunition on board the vehicle and boasts shoot-and-scoot capabilities. The Army aims to acquire approximately 300 of these guns.

The Advanced Weapons and Equipment India Ltd., established after the corporatization of the Ordnance Factory Board, is in the process of upgrading 300 130mm M-46 guns to 155mm. Originally slated to be completed in four years, the project is running behind schedule. So far, one regiment has been inducted, and the conversion has extended the range from 27 km to over 36 km.

In addition to guns, there is a strong focus on indigenizing munitions. Officials noted that trials are currently underway for four different types of munitions.

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