New Delhi. Despite
the increasing obsolescence of artillery guns, mortars and rocket launchers, no
contract has so far been concluded for their replacement even though protracted
trials of several 155mm howitzers were carried out over the last few years.
view of the nuclear shadow under which the next conflict will be fought, offensive
and defensive manoeuvres will be extremely limited. Consequently, it will be necessary
to generate firepower asymmetries to destroy the adversarys war waging potential.
In such a scenario, the failure to modernise the Indian artillery will have serious
repercussions for national security.
Hence, it is extremely heartening
to note that in January 2008 the Ministry of Defence (MoD) began to make long-awaited
amends by issuing requests for Proposals (RFP) for various types of 155mm howitzers.
In the post-Kargil 1999 scenario in the Indian sub-continent, the artillery
has proved to be a decisive arm. Indeed, even a battle-winning one.
clear to all perceptive observers who followed the Kargil conflict closely that
infantry soldiers had to repeatedly attack uphill to recapture the mountaintops
at Kargil taken quietly by the Pakistan army.
It was actually the artillery
that had paved the way for victory. The Indian Army deployed an overwhelming superiority
of its concentrated firepower, and that enabled the infantry attacks to be launched
for repossessing the lost territory. Operationally, the Army also used the opportunity
to test and fine-tune the indigenously-developed Pinaka Multi Barrel Rocket Launchers
The Indian Army has approved the 155mm howitzer as the standard
artillery caliber, but new, modern systems are yet to be acquired to replace the
old units and augment the strength to requirement. Precision-guided 155mm artillery
shells can destroy bunkers, bridges and small buildings with a single-shot kill
probability (SSKP) as high as 80 percent.
Improved conventional munition
(ICMs) shells carrying anti-personnel grenades and lethal air-burst
ammunition can be dispensed over soft targets such as administrative
bases, rations and fuel-storage dumps, headquarters and rest areas. When these
are available in large quantities, the artillery can cause much greater destruction
and indirectly reduce the number of casualties in the infantry.
400 FH-77B 155mm guns that proved their combat superiority in the Kargil conflict,
had been purchased in the mid-1980s from Bofors of Sweden to equip 20 medium-artillery
These guns had enhanced the effectiveness of the artillery by
an order of magnitude. Notably, the 105mm Indian field guns and the older 130mm
Russian medium guns in service since the early 1970s have reached an advanced
stage of obsolescence; while World War II vintage 25 pounders, 75/24 Indian mountain
guns, 122mm field guns and 100mm field guns have already been phased out of service.
the recent years, just when a contract for 120 tracked and 180 wheeled self-propelled
(SP) 155mm guns was about to be concluded after years of repeated trials, South
African arms manufacturer Denel, the leading contender for the contract, was alleged
to have been involved in a corruption scam in an earlier deal for Anti-Material
Rifles (AMRs). New tenders have now been floated.
FIRE SUPPORT TO DESTRUCTION
From its original status as a supporting
arm, artillery has now graduated to a full-fledged combat arm that dominates the
battlefield with its inherently destructive firepower. In the classic fire
and manoeuvre tactics practised during operations on 20th century battlefields,
artillery traditionally provided the firepower punch while armoured, mechanised
and infantry units manoeuvred to gain tactical advantage.
were generally limited to the battle where own troops were in direct contact with
the enemy. Covering fire during attack and defensive fire
to beat back enemy attacks were provided in a supporting role.
guns, mortars and rocket launchers were considered area weapons and the neutralisation
of large areas of ground with inherent dispersion of fire, rather than destruction,
was the established primary task.
Today, once a threat from across the borders
has been discerned, the artillery, firing 155mm precision strike ammunition can
be employed to destroy the intruding forces quickly so that the aggression can
be vacated and sanctity of the international boundary restored.
that can be seen by the troops in contact with the enemy can be illuminated by
a Laser beam by a ground-based artillery observer (spotter) carrying a Laser Target
Designator. Those targets that are behind crest lines and on reverse slopes can
be designated by an airborne artillery observer in an army aviation helicopter
or an Unarmed Aerial Vehicle (UAV).
conventional munitions (ICMs) shells carrying anti-personnel grenades and lethal
air-burst ammunition can be dispensed over soft targets
such as administrative bases, rations and fuel storage dumps, headquarters and
rest areas. As these are not precision strike munitions, these have to be accurately
directed using commando artillery observers or TV camera equipped UAVs to achieve
the desired effect.
Precision munitions are expensive, but they turn out
to be cheaper as only a few have to be used to destroy designated targets. Plus,
they offer the advantage of Assured Kill, making operations that much easier and
also saving lives that would otherwise be lost in an assault.
MBRLs such as Smerch can enable the enemys sensitive command centres to
be hit with impunity.
Had Smerch MBRLs been available during the Kargil
conflict, the Pakistani HQ and administrative base at Skardu and other targets
deep inside Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) would have been hit with devastating
Other force multipliers include Gun or Weapon Locating Radars (WLRs)
for effective counter-bombardment, UAVs equipped with TV cameras and suitable
for high altitude operations for target acquisition and engagement and damage
assessment, powerful binoculars for target engagement by day and long-range night
vision devices for the same purpose at night.
The Indian Army had in fact
requested for the Gun Locating Radars in the mid-1980s, but their acquisition
was approved by the Government only after the Kargil conflict, in which a majority
of the Indian casualties were due to the Pakistani artillery, which Indian forces
could not detect and therefore could not neutralize effectively. Now, the Army
has taken delivery of a dozen radars from the US arms major Raytheon under a government-togovernment
contract. More of these radars are to be made in India as required.
Indian artillery is playing an increasingly important role in the successful execution
of integrated land-air operations on the modern battlefield.
philosophy of employment of artillery firepower visualises the synergetic orchestration
of all firepower resources across the length and breadth of the battlefield to
cause destruction, systematic degradation of the enemys fighting potential
and suppression of specific combat echelons of the enemy from operating effectively
for limited durations.
The latter function will include the suppression
of the enemys air defence (SEAD) assets to enable own attack helicopters
to operate freely and to also enable ground attack aircraics, and India has taken
up the gauntlet by building one at Cochin. Fincantieri, which is building the
Count Cavour in Italy, has been roped in as the consultant to make the best use
of its expertise and experience.
This lesson has not been lost on UK which
has not built carriers for years. Hence it is jointly planning to build two similar
60,000 ton aircraft carriers with France for interoperability. UK hopes to learn
from the experience of the French Navy which encountered problems in the size
of the nuclear powered Charles de Gaulle to operate the newer Rafale aircraft.
Despite excellent calculations, the ship's landing deck had to be enlarged, post
The ship's bridge also was located too far forward and led to turbulence
for aircraft landing and the vessel lost a propeller in the Caribbean islands.
The ship limped back to France with a tug in escort.
All these issues are
being rectified in the new UK French carriers.
When there is no operational
flat top platform for continuation training and deck landing qualifications, the
consequence is a backlog of pilots rapidly losing their deck landing qualifications
DLQ. Indian Navy pilots are being trained in USA and at IAF bases in India as
the Indian Navy is set to receive its first MiG 29Ks in the coming months.
the first MiG 29K flew spectacularly at the MAKS aviation show outside Moscow
INS Viraat was to have been decommissioned by 2010 but now it
appears it will have to bat on longer than anticipated, as both of India's aircraft
carriers on order have been delayed. The Gorshkov - to be christened INS Vikramaditya
on commissioning - being refitted at the Sevmash shipyard at Severnodinsk in Russia,
is delayed for delivery from 2008 to 2010 and the head of the shipyard has been
removed for the faux pas. Nevsokye Design Bureau has been asked to look in to
A delegation led by UK-trained engineer Vice Admiral B S Randhawa,
the Controller of Warship Production and Acquisition (CWPA), slated to be the
next Chief of Material, had visited Russia mid May and inspected the Mk 1143.4
Admiral Gorshkov, and yet again in July. He confirmed that the ship is behind
Strangely, the Russians also asked for price escalation, saying
that they had made a mistake in calculating the required work, and despite also
that the delay was due to their own problems.
Even then, Defence Secretary
Shekar Dutt, who is now India's Deputy National Security Advisor (NSA), and Secretary
Defence Finance V K Misra, visited Moscow in July to help resolve the issue.
According to former Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Admiral Arun Prakash, the Russians
need to be penalized for the delay as they had already been afforded one escalation.
The Navy Chief, Admiral Sureesh Mehta, is an experienced aviator who, like his
predecessor, has flown off INS Viraat and Vikrant as a green horn Sea Hawk rookie
pilot. He was looking forward to inducting the Vikramaditya during his tenure.
He has indicated a new date for its induction, as after late 2008. It will be
a challenge for the next Navy team in South Block to ensure that the vessel is
transferred to India not far behind the schedule.
The 273 meter long, 30
year old 48,500 ton Gorshkov's keel was laid in 1976 at the Nikolayev Shipyard
now in Ukraine, and when commissioned, it operated 14 Yakovlev Yak-141 vertical
take-off and landing (VTOL) Fighters, eight Yak-38 Forger VTOL fighters, as well
as 16 Kamov Ka-25 and Ka-252RLD Hormone and Ka- 252PS Helix anti-submarine warfare
(ASW), reconnaissance and search and- rescue (SAR) helicopters.
was earmarked for scrapping, and then offered to the Indian Navy free, provided
India paid for its refurbishment and bought Russian aircraft to operate from it.
Admiral J G Nadkarni was among those who supported its acquisition towards fulfilling
the Indian Navy's need for aircraft carriers.
After much delay and procrastination,
India signed a US$ 1.5 billion Gorshkov modernisation contract in 2004 under Defence
Minister George Fernandes' direction. Its refurbishment was agreed at $ 700 million,
and the rest was for the 16 MiG-29K fighters, helicopters, miscellaneous equipment
and weapons from third parties.
Many of the carrier's old systems are being
removed while the new equipment includes some Made-in- India sensors and other
The Anti Aircraft system is likely to be the Israeli Barak, though
this acquisition is under the CBI's scanner over allegations of bribe by IAI/Rafael
to an Indian middleman in the Rs 1100 crore deal.
Israeli missiles had
to be purchased in the wake of the 1999 Kargil War when the naval brass found
to its dismay that Indian naval ships had no protective missile cover, thanks
to the paralysis in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) from 1990 onwards.
24 meter wide deck has been fitted with three arrester wires, as opposed to the
US carriers which have four and two 30-ton and 20 ton lifts located on the port
side, and one aft of the superstructure for continuous operations of MiG-29Ks
on the 2,400 square meters deck space.
The MiG 29KUBs are being fitted
with French Thales Top Sight helmet sighting device for attack, and the Sagem
Sigma-95 laser-gyroscope inertial navigation system, with open architecture.
The open architecture enables changes easily.
The cockpit will have three
multipurpose MFI10-6 data screens in the MiG-29KUB's front and rear cockpits,
the IKSH-1K Heads Up Display (HUD). Target data in video will be from Phazatron
with NIIR radar, the new-generation Zhuk-ME optronic radar, in digital terrain
contour matching (TERCOM) map along fiber optic channels. Many innovations are
new and never been installed in Russia's inventory earlier.
of experience in the new systems could be contributing to the delay.