Ar­tillery in Bat­tle Com­bat Ca­pa­bil­ity – An Anal­y­sis

Ca­pa­bil­ity build­ing and mod­erni­sa­tion is an on­go­ing process but the chal­lenge is to carry out the as­signed mis­sion with the ex­ist­ing re­sources


Pri­mary Role of Ar­tillery

In Of­fen­sive Op­er­a­tions. Of­fen­sive op­er­a­tions in­volve at­tack by own in­fantry on the de­fen­sive po­si­tions held by the en­emy. Dur­ing at­tack, ar­tillery fire can cause at­tri­tion, de­stroy/soften the tar­get and also pre­vent di­rect fire on at­tack­ing troops from the en­emy by keep­ing their heads down. It can also pre­vent en­emy’s ar­tillery to fire by en­gag­ing them with own ar­tillery called counter bom­bard­ment. Ar­tillery fire can pre­vent re­in­force­ments from com­ing to the aid of their own troops by iso­lat­ing the tar­get area by fire. It can also carry out spo­radic fire to ha­rass the en­emy, pre­vent them from rest­ing or keep them guess­ing of the place and time of at­tack. Sim­i­lar sup­port is given to mech­a­nised in­fantry while car­ry­ing out of­fen­sive op­er­a­tions. Ar­mour is also sup­ported dur­ing of­fen- sive op­er­a­tions spe­cially when car­ried out through wooded area, ur­ban/semi ur­ban area and where crops are still stand­ing to pre­vent ac­cu­rate anti-tank fire.

In De­fen­sive Op­er­a­tions. De­fen­sive po­si­tions are nor­mally held by in­fantry and likely routes/ap­proach of at­tack are an­a­lysed and iden­ti­fied as De­fen­sive Fire (DF) tar­gets whose fir­ing data (bal­lis­tic data) is pre- reg­is­tered and recorded. A large num­ber of DF tar­gets are recorded to cater for

ev­ery con­tin­gency. Cor­rec­tion for weather con­di­tions like at­mo­spheric pres­sure and wind di­rec­tion is ap­plied pe­ri­od­i­cally so that fire is ac­cu­rate. As soon as a par­tic­u­lar sec­tor comes un­der at­tack, fire can be called for on the DF tar­gets in that area. The spread of the ar­tillery fire will be ef­fec­tive against mov­ing tar­gets and cause heavy ca­su­al­ties to the troops in the open. Op­por­tu­nity tar­gets can also be eas­ily neu­tralised.


Reg­i­ment of Ar­tillery is equipped and trained to op­er­ate and fight in all type of ter­rains like plains, desert, semi desert, high alti­tude in­clud­ing Si­achen.

Scal­ing of Ar­tillery

In­te­gral ar­tillery is scaled at the level of a di­vi­sion with each of them hav­ing one ar­tillery brigade. Sim­i­larly at corps level there are suit­ably equipped in­de­pen­dent ar­tillery brigades which pro­vide re­in­forc­ing ar­tillery to the di­vi­sions when re­quired. Above the corps there are a few ar­tillery di­vi­sions scaled as per the op­er­a­tional re­quire­ment. The aim of ar­tillery is to pro­vide such over whelm­ing de­struc­tion through fire power that own in­fantry/mech­a­nised in­fantry and ar­mour suf­fer min­i­mum ca­su­al­ties dur­ing op­er­a­tions.

Type of Ar­ma­ment held by Ar­tillery

The Reg­i­ment of ar­tillery holds a va­ri­ety of guns, mor­tars, rocket launch­ers, mis­siles, un­manned aerial ve­hi­cles and sur­veil­lance sys­tems to carry out their role. Brief de­tails are:

Guns. Ar­tillery’s arse­nal con­sists of a va­ri­ety of guns of var­i­ous cal­i­bre like the indige­nous 105mm In­dian Field Gun (IFG) with range of about 17 km, 105mm Light Field Gun which is sim­i­lar to IFG but lighter in weight thus most suit­able for the moun­tains or a ter­rain where mo­bil­ity prob­lems ex­ist. They were ex­ten­sively used in Kargil to pro­vide sup­pres­sive fire sup­port to own in­fantry at­tack­ing Pak­istan de­fences. In the heav­ier cal­iber there is 130 mm M46 with a range of about 27km, 155 mm FH-77B with a range of about 24 to 30km and up­graded M46 guns to 45 cal­i­bre where the range can go upto 39000m, de­pand­ing upon the pro­jec­tile. In the self pro­pelled cat­e­gory there is 130 Cat­a­pult which has been in­dige­nously in­te­grated by mount­ing the ord­nance of the M-46 atop a Vi­jayanta tank chas­sis. Ear­lier Ab­bot of Bri­tish ori­gin was in ser­vice which has been phased out.

Mor­tars. Mor­tars are ideal for fir­ing in the moun­tains, on troops in the open or in open trenches. Ar­tillery holds 120mm cal­ibere mor­tars with a range of about 5 to 9 km.

Rocket ar­tillery. In­dia has a for­mi­da­ble arse­nal in rocket ar­tillery and their ef­fect on the tar­get end is dev­as­tat­ing and de­mor­al­is­ing for the en­emy. The old­est is 122mm BM-21 Grad Mul­ti­ple Bar­rel Rocket Launcher with 40 rock­ets on each launcher and a range be­tween 11 to 20 km. The place of pride is 214mm Pi­naka multi-bar­rel rocket launcher which has been de­vel­oped in­dige­nously. Pi­naka is named after the bow of Lord Shiva. It car­ries 12 rock­ets per launcher with a range of 10 to 38 km. The fir­ing se­quence is pro­gram­mable from 4-200sec. The third multi-bar­rel rocket launcher is 300mm BM-30 Smerch mul­ti­ple bar­rel rocket launcher of Rus­sian ori­gin which car­ries 12 rock­ets per launcher with a range of about 20 to 70 km. Sur­face to sur­face Prithvi-I Mis­sile Sys­tem. The Sur­face-to-Sur­face Mis­sile Privthi was de­vel­oped un­der the In­te­grated Guided Mis­sile De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme (IGMDP) and first test-fired on Fe­bru­ary 25, 1988.It is re­ported to have a sin­gle-stage liq­uid fuel dual mo­tor with a range of 150 km with a pay­load of 1,000 kg and is in ser­vice with ar­tillery. Other ver­sions are meant for the Navy and the Air Force. Prithvi is likely to be re­placed by Pra­har which is more ac­cu­rate and un­der de­vel­op­ment.

Agni Mis­sile. The Agni mis­sile is a fam­ily of medium to in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal range bal­lis­tic mis­siles (MRBM/ICBM) de­vel­oped by In­dia un­der the IGMDP and tested in 1989. After the de­vel­op­ment of Agni, due to its im­por­tance, Agni Mis­sile pro­gramme was delinked from IGMDP and is be­ing de­vel­oped sep­a­rately. The MRBM ver­sion of Agni is with the Army. Re­ported range of the MRBM ver­sion varies from 700-3000km.

BrahMos Cruise Mis­sile. BrahMos is a su­per­sonic cruise mis­sile, de­vel­op­ment of which started in the 1990s as a joint project be­tween Rus­sia and In­dia to de­velop an In­dian ver­sion of the P-800 Oniks cruise mis­sile. The mis­sile’s name is a port­man­teau of the rivers Brahma­pu­tra and Moskva. Ad­van­tages of BrahMos over a sub­sonic mis­sile are: it is three times faster, 2.5-3 times more range, 3-4 times more seeker range and 9 times more of ki­netic en­ergy. It has re­ported range of 290 km and has a sep­a­rate ver­sion for the Navy and the Air Force. The land ver­sion has been ser­vice since 2007.

Re­con­nais­sance, Sur­veil­lance and Tar­get Ac­qui­si­tion (RSTA)

Tar­get ac­qui­si­tion is the de­tec­tion, iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and lo­ca­tion of a tar­get to such a de­gree that it can be ef­fec­tively neu­tralised or de­stroyed. This role is car­ried out by Sur­veil­lance and Tar­get Ac­qui­si­tions (SATA) units of the Ar­tillery. They hold ground­based sen­sors like radars and other sim­i­lar de­vices, which could be land based or air borne from a UAV plat­form. Brief de­tails are:

ANTPQ – 37 Fire­finder. AN/TPQ37 Fire­finder is a mo­bile radar sys­tem man­u­fac­tured by Thales Raytheon Sys­tems (for­merly Hughes Air­craft, which was ac­quired by Raytheon). The sys­tem is a long-range ver­sion of weapon-lo­cat­ing radar, de­signed to de­tect and track in­com­ing ar­tillery and rocket fire to de­ter­mine the point of ori­gin for counter-bat­tery fire. The AN/TPQ-37 is an elec­tron­i­cally steered radar, im­ply­ing that the radar does not ac­tu­ally move while in op­er­a­tion.

Indige­nous Weapon Lo­cat­ing Radar (WLR). This radar is de­vel­oped by DRDO

and man­u­fac­tured by Bharat Elec­tron­ics Lim­ited. The WLR is a mo­bile ar­tillery lo­cat­ing Phased ar­ray radar de­vel­oped by In­dia. This counter-bat­tery radar is de­signed to de­tect and track in­com­ing ar­tillery and rocket fire to de­ter­mine the point of ori­gin for counter-bat­tery fire.

Is­rael Aero­space In­dus­tries Long Range Ob­ser­va­tion Sys­tem (LOROS). LOROS is a multi-sen­sor imag­ing sys­tem for long-range day and night ob­ser­va­tion sys­tem. The sys­tem in­cludes Highly gyro-sta­bi­lized tur­ret with 4 sen­sors (Ther­mal im­ager, color charge-cou­pled de­vice [CCD] zoom, B/W CCD spot­ter and in­ten­si­fied charge-cou­pled de­vice [ICCD)] and laser range finder). Air­borne Work­sta­tions. Fol­low­ing are in ser­vice:

Is­rael Aero­space In­dus­tries’ (IAI) Searcher UAV. Searcher is a multi mis­sion tac­ti­cal UAV which can carry out the role of sur­veil­lance, re­con­nais­sance, tar­get ac­qui­si­tion, ar­tillery ad­just­ment of fire and dam­age as­sess­ment. Searcher has been con­stantly im­proved from MkI to MkII and MkIII. The Searcher MkIII has mul­ti­ple op­er­a­tional con­fig­u­ra­tions, SAR/GMTI (Syn­thetic Aper­ture Radar/ Ground Mov­ing Tar­get In­di­ca­tor), SIGINT and EO/IR has a max­i­mum alti­tude of >23000ft, and of en­durance of 18h and mis­sion ra­dius is 350km.

IAI’Heron. Heron 2 is the largest medium-alti­tude long-en­durance UAV built in Is­rael with an op­er­a­tional alti­tude of 45,000 ft and is ca­pa­ble of mis­sions of more than 36 hours du­ra­tion. It pro­vides deep-pen­e­tra­tion, wide-area, real-time in­tel­li­gence to na­tional agen­cies, the­atre com­man­ders and lower ech­e­lons with pri­mary role be­ing in­tel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance and tar­get ac­qui­si­tion.

Ca­pa­bil­ity build­ing

Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of Ar­tillery, Lt Gen­eral P.K. Sri­vas­tava has stated, in an re­cent in­ter­view with SP’s Land Forces, that the, “Ra­tion­al­iza­tion Plan was first per­ceived in year 2000, wherein 155mm was made the stan­dard gun sys­tem for In­dian Ar­tillery. Ac­cord­ingly, ‘Ar­tillery Pro­file’ was con­ceived and pro­mul­gated with em­pha­sis on Medi­u­mi­sa­tion of Ar­tillery. Since then, based on our op­er­a­tional ne­ces­sity, con­certed ef­fort has re­sulted in suc­cess­fully con­tract­ing of 155mm/39 Cal Ul­tra-Light How­itzers from US Gov­ern­ment and 155mm/52 Cal Tracked (Self-Pro­pelled) Ar­tillery guns with L&T. To give im­pe­tus to in­di­g­e­niza­tion ma­jor projects such as 155mm/45 Cal Dhanush Gun Sys­tem, de­sign and de­vel­op­ment by OFB and 155mm/52 Cal­i­bre Ad­vance Towed Ar­tillery Gun Sys­tem (ATAGS) de­signed by DRDO in part­ner­ship with Pri­vate In­dus­try, is also be­ing pur­sued”. There are plans to ac­quire more mod­ern RSTA sys­tems and pre­ci­sion guided mu­ni­tions. The Reg­i­ment of Ar­tillery has de­cided to stan­dard­ise the cal­i­bre of its guns at 155mm so as to en­sure com­mon­al­ity of am­mu­ni­tion and smoother man­age­ment of the in­ven­tory. Such a move will also un­furl a fire storm at the tar­get end. Ca­pa­bil­ity build­ing and mod­ern­iza­tion is an on­go­ing process but the chal­lenge is to carry out the as­signed mis­sion with ex­ist­ing re­sources. The ca­pa­bil­ity of the Reg­i­ment of Ar­tillery can be judged from its per­for­mance dur­ing com­bat. It has per­formed with ded­i­ca­tion and val­our in ev­ery con­flict since In­de­pen­dence. Dur­ing Kargil op­er­a­tions, the then COAS hon­oured three ar­tillery reg­i­ments for ex­cep­tional and ex­em­plary val­our with unit ci­ta­tions. Com­bat ca­pa­bil­ity is not only of the weapon sys­tems but the sol­diers who man them.

Reg­i­ment of Ar­tillery has won many awards since In­de­pen­dence which in­clude 7 Ma­havir Chakras and 92 Vir Chakras amongst oth­ers which speaks highly of their com­bat ca­pa­bil­ity. Their motto Sar­va­tra, Iz­zat-o-Iqbal (Ev­ery­where with Honour and Glory) says it all.

The ca­pa­bil­ity of the Reg­i­ment of Ar­tillery can be judged from its per­for­mance dur­ing com­bat. It has per­formed with ded­i­ca­tion and val­our in ev­ery con­flict since In­de­pen­dence

(Top) Rocket fire train­ing at the field fir­ing ranges; (above) Mul­ti­ple rocket launcher fir­ing.

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Bo­fors Gun helped the In­dian Army to win the Kargil War against Pak­istan in 1999

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