‘Ar­tillery Ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion Plan was first per­ceived in the year 2000 wherein, medium guns with 155mm cal­i­bre were made the stan­dard gun sys­tem’

Lt Gen­eral Naresh Chand (Retd), Se­nior Tech­ni­cal Ed­i­tor, SP’s Land Forces in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with Lt Gen­eral P.K. Sri­vas­tava, Direc­tor Gen­eral of Ar­tillery, who spoke com­pre­hen­sively on ar­tillery’s mod­erni­sa­tion pro­gramme and chal­lenges thereof

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SP’s Land Forces (SP’s): Con­cep­tu­ally within Ar­tillery you now speak of degra­da­tion and de­struc­tion rather than neu­tral­i­sa­tion. What are the rea­sons for this change in con­cept? Direc­tor Gen­eral of Ar­tillery (DG Arty):

Neu­tral­is­ing the en­emy aims at ba­si­cally re­strict­ing his ob­ser­va­tion and ham­per­ing his mo­bil­ity for a limited pe­riod of time which can be achieved by in­flict­ing ap­prox­i­mately 15 to 20 per cent ca­su­al­ties. This is an old con­cept when armies had limited fire sup­port and most out­comes were a re­sult of phys­i­cal con­tact of ground forces. Degra­da­tion or de­struc­tion on the other hand, aims at caus­ing 50 to 60 per cent or more ca­su­al­ties to the en­emy forces and equip­ment mak­ing them use­less for a pro­tracted pe­riod of time. This shift has risen out of the need to win bat­tles while min­imis­ing phys­i­cal con­tact as ca­su­al­ties are no longer ac­cept­able to na­tions. This ne­ces­si­tates ar­tillery to have the ca­pa­bil­ity to ac­quire tar­gets at long ranges and cause their de­struc­tion with highly ac­cu­rate long range weapon sys­tems. It is, with this aim that great em­pha­sis is be­ing laid to sur­veil­lance, tar­get ac­qui­si­tion and dam­age as­sess­ment along with medi­u­mi­sa­tion of ar­tillery and the in­duc­tion of long range vec­tors i.e, rock­ets and mis­sile sys­tems hav­ing ranges in ex­cess of 200 km.

SP’s: It ap­pears that the Gov­ern­ment is ready to re­vive and push the Field Ar­tillery Ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion Plan (FARP), un­der which the army aims to im­port, lo­cally de­velop, and li­cence-pro­duce some 2,820-3,000 as­sorted 155mm how­itzers to equip its ar­tillery reg­i­ments. What has been the progress on FARP?

DG Arty:

Ar­tillery Ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion Plan was first per­ceived in the year 2000 wherein, medium guns with 155mm cal­i­bre were made the stan­dard gun sys­tem. This lead to medi­u­mi­sa­tion of ar­tillery, which is very much on track. We have adopted a mul­ti­pronged ap­proach wherein strengths of the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors have been lever­aged along with limited pro­cure­ments from for­eign agen­cies to usher in state-of-the-art tech­nol­ogy. This plan has seen the suc­cess­ful pro­cure­ment of 155mm/39 cal­i­bre ul­tra light how­itzers from US Gov­ern­ment and 155mm/52 cal­i­bre tracked (self-pro­pelled) ar­tillery guns from L&T. Indige­nous gun sys­tems like the 155mm/45 cal­i­bre Dhanush and the 155mm/52 cal­i­bre ATAGS are also be­ing pur­sued.

SP’s: What has been progress on M777 ul­tra-light how­itzers tri­als with In­dian am­mu­ni­tion as there were me­dia re­ports that the am­mu­ni­tion burst in the bar­rel? DG Arty:

The in­ci­dent on the 155mm/39 cal­i­bre M777 ul­tra light how­itzers that oc­curred while pre­par­ing firing ta­bles, has been in­ves­ti­gated in de­tail by a Joint In­ves­ti­ga­tion Team of ex­perts from the US Gov­ern­ment and Gov­ern­ment of In­dia. The gun and am­mu­ni­tion have been cleared while some rec­om­men­da­tions for im­prove­ment have been in­cor­po­rated in the man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cesses. De­liv­er­ies of the gun sys­tems have not been af­fected in any way by the in­ci­dent and are to com­mence very shortly.

SP’s: What is the progress on in­duc­tion of South Korea’s K9 Va­jra-T self-pro­pelled (Tracked) ar­tillery gun?

DG Arty:

The pro­cure­ment of 155mm/52 cal­i­bre K9 ‘Va­jra’ self-pro­pelled (tracked) gun is pro­gress­ing well. De­liv­er­ies of the gun sys­tem have com­menced and will greatly en­hance our ca­pa­bil­i­ties in the near fu­ture.

SP’s: De­fence Ac­qui­si­tion Coun­cil has ap­proved 150 num­bers of in­dige­nously de­signed and de­vel­oped 155mm Ad­vanced Towed Ar­tillery Guns Sys­tems for the In­dian Army at an ap­prox­i­mate cost of 3,364.78 crore on Au­gust 25, 2018. Th­ese guns have been in­dige­nously de­signed and de­vel­oped by DRDO and will be man­u­fac­tured by pro­duc­tion agen­cies, as nom­i­nated by DRDO. They are likely to be the main­stay of ar­tillery in the near fu­ture. Would you like to elab­o­rate on this state­ment which is given in the press re­lease of the Min­istry of De­fence? DG Arty:

The Ad­vanced Towed Ar­tillery Gun Sys­tems has been de­signed to take care of fu­tur­is­tic re­quire­ments of the Ar­tillery. We are whole heart­edly sup­port­ing de­vel­op­ment of the same and are hope­ful that the gun sys­tem would con­tinue to get re­fined so that they be­come the main­stay of In­dian Ar­tillery and takes care of our re­quire­ments for the next two to three decades.

SP’s: What steps are be­ing taken for the mod­erni­sa­tion and the ca­pac­ity build­ing of Ar­tillery Am­mu­ni­tion?

DG Arty:

The mod­erni­sa­tion of Ar­tillery am­mu­ni­tion sys­tems is an­other on­go­ing project that is be­ing re­alised through a se­ries of mea­sures. Th­ese in­clude, de­vel­op­ment of a num­ber of pre­ci­sion mu­ni­tions for guns, mor­tars, rock­ets and mis­siles. In ad­di­tion, en­deav­ours are on by the indige­nous de­fence PSUs to de­velop am­mu­ni­tion ca­pa­ble of longer ranges and im­proved lethal­ity. All th­ese needs to be sup­ported by bet­ter and more ac­cu­rate ac­qui­si­tions means and me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal sys­tems to op­ti­mise ca­pa­bil­ity.

SP’s: Does the above steps in­clude pre­ci­sion guided mu­ni­tions (PGMs)?

DG Arty:

Yes, pre­ci­sion guided mu­ni­tions are a part of the over­all plan to im­prove ar­tillery am­mu­ni­tion. Pre­ci­sion am­mu­ni­tion sys­tem will be for a part of the ar­se­nal of not only mis­sile and rocket reg­i­ments but also medium reg­i­ments equipped with 155mm/52 cal­i­bre gun sys­tems. PGMs will play a very im­por­tant role in all fu­ture degra­da­tion op­er­a­tions.

SP’s: What are the mea­sures be­ing taken to im­prove the sur­veil­lance, tar­get ac­qui­si­tion and tar­get dam­age as­sess­ment ? DG Arty:

Sur­veil­lance, tar­get ac­qui­si­tion and tar­get dam­age as­sess­ment con­trib­ute im­mensely to real time sit­u­a­tional aware­ness, bat­tle­field trans­parency and ef­fec­tive tar­get­ing. There­fore, this is one of the ‘key re­sult ar­eas’ for all of us. To­wards this, we are in the process of de­vel­op­ing multi-di­men­sional, multi-spec­tral and all weather ca­pa­bil­ity for the same along with the two other ser­vices to en­sure in­ter­op­er­abil­ity as well as the ca­pa­bil­ity to cover the en­tire bat­tle space. We are de­vel­op­ing suit­able ground based, air­borne and satel­lite ca­pa­bil­i­ties hav­ing sen­sors rang­ing from bat­tle field sur­veil­lance radars, elec­troop­ti­cal sen­sors, op­ti­cal de­vices and weapon lo­cat­ing and syn­thetic aper­ture radars. We are con­stantly mon­i­tor­ing de­vel­op­ments in this field both within our coun­try and in the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket to re­main up­dated and up­grade our ex­ist­ing sys­tems and stay ‘cur­rent’ in this very im­por­tant facet of Ar­tillery.

SP’s: Is the Ar­tillery Bat­tle Man­age­ment Sys­tem be­ing mod­ernised with the lat­est Dig­i­tal Data Sys­tem ?

DG Arty:

Yes, the Ar­tillery Bat­tle Man­age­ment Sys­tem is us­ing the lat­est tech­nol­ogy. The Bat­tle Field Sur­veil­lance Sys­tem has been au­to­mated through real time trans­mis­sion of tar­get data which can be trans­mit­ted over ra­dio, op­ti­cal fi­bre ca­ble or through satel­lite. The de­tails re­quired through the sur­veil­lance re­sources like satel­lite, un­manned aerial ve­hi­cle, Bat­tle Field Sur­veil­lance Sys­tem, Long Range Recce and Ob­ser­va­tion Sys­tem and Ther­mal Imag­ing In­te­grated Ob­ser­va­tion Sys­tem are au­to­mat­i­cally trans­mit­ted through var­i­ous ruggedised state of art com­put­ers con­nected with th­ese equip­ment. The in­for­ma­tion is then col­lated on a com­mand de­ci­sion sup­port sys­tem at var­i­ous lev­els which re­sults in a co­or­di­nated Bat­tle Field Man­age­ment.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: In­dian Army

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