The futuristic artillery platforms should be independent and autonomous firing identities, capable of firing on their own, achieved by introducing automatic alignment, laying and loading of ammunition. These platforms should have matching mobility in case of towed guns, adequate protection in case of self propelled guns, and portability by helicopters and aircrafts in case of light guns. Large operational frontages will dictate platforms capable of achieving longer ranges, which help us in achieving concentrated fire power in preference to concentrating fire power units. However, there should be a balance between mobility and longer range.
The aim of all developments in the field of ammunition should be: (a) Increase lethality by increasing the content of high explosive (HE) and reduce the overall weight of shell by having casing of better metal. (b) Increased density of fire power on target will reduce correspondingly by introduction of PGMs. However, we need to balance the requirement of PGMs and “duds”. (c) Complement long range capability of artillery by introduction of wide variety of ammunition capable of generating varied affects, both lethal and non-lethal. (d) All the above needs to be backed by accuracy, improved target designation and trajectory correction systems.
We should also not gloss over the important aspect of efficient ammunition management in the field, which becomes a crucial battle winning factor rather than the number of tubes available. If two second lines can be handled in 24 hours instead of one, the available artillery will be perhaps twice as effective.
Modernisation of Indian Artillery
In the pursuit of modernisation, we must not forget upgradation of our existing equipment to make it somewhat akin to the state of the art, and provide it with extra life. Upgradation of 130mm guns to 155mm 45 cal guns is nearly complete and the upgradation of the 155mm 39 Cal guns is being progressed. Our age old 120mm Mortars also require immediate upgradation and we need to look at long rg mors with enhance rg and precision capabilities.
I am sure, different aspects related to modernisation and upgradation of the Indian Artillery will be deliberated upon in this particular forum and we will come out with viable options to tide over all hurdles and trace out a most befitting roadmap for modernisation.
User, Designer and Manufacturer Interaction
It is prudent to mention that, at times, some of the us, harbour a belief that indigenous designs and manufactured products can not be compared with the best in the world. Such a belief, more often that not, is misplaced. Notwithstanding such an unwarranted presumption, if we, as users, are convinced that some of the foreign industrial establishments have already produced state of the art and technologically advanced equipment, and if it also meets the laid down qualitative requirements, we must subordinate our ego and explore the possibility of buying off the shelf. In any case, the option of acquisition of TOT continues to remain with the users. It is my earnest desire that such an arrangement of procurement must not be viewed negatively by either DRDO or the Indian manufacturers. However, over dependence on import has to be an exception than rule. Over indulgence in only import is fraught with numerous financial and self sufficiency related implications. Options of import and indigenous production must be weighed realistically. We ought to take pride in the fact that we have splendid manufacturing facilities backed with world class designers and scientists.
There is no denying the fact that in a futuristic battlefield, Artillery will be the dominant tactical weapon, because it can respond in seconds, land on the target within minutes, is impervious to weather, never runs out of fuel, provides smoke cover, illuminates targets and suppresses the fires of enemy guns and other lethal weapons.
The Regiment of Artillery has a glorious record of past achievements and we look forward to the future with pride and confidence – confidence in the capabilities of the guns and missiles, confidence in the ability of the man behind the guns to fire them with traditional courage and professional competence.
(Lt Gen KR Rao is the Director General Artillery of the Indian Army. This is an excerpt from the speech he delivered this morning at the 3rd International Artillery Seminar conducted jointly by the Centre for Land Warfare Studies, CII and the Regiment of Artillery)