By Staff Correspondent
In a bid to enhance border security, the Indian Army has significantly boosted its firepower along its boundary with China. There have been major artillery and rocket deployments and plans to acquire a range of advanced weapons systems. The Indian Army also intends to incorporate unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and over a hundred K-9 Vajra howitzers to bolster its combat capabilities along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The Indian Army’s artillery units have already deployed their K-9 Vajra Tracked Self-Propelled Howitzers, ultra-light M-777 howitzers, Dhanush gun systems and the Pinaka rocket systems. The Indian Army intends to equip its artillery units deployed along the LAC with UAVs sporting up to 90 km range.
A source knowledgeable about the developments revealed, “We are looking at procuring UAVs having a range of 15-20 km as well as those having capabilities to carry out surveillance at a range of up to 80 km having an endurance of four hours.” Currently, almost all UAVs in the Army’s inventory are being operated by Army Aviation units.
The Indian Army is slated to get 100 more K-9 Vajra howitzers, in addition to the 100 ordered in 2017. Such a procurement would significantly boost its artillery capabilities. According to sources, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has cleared the proposal for ordering 100 more K-9 Vajras, and the Request for Proposal (RFP) will soon be issued.
Initially meant for operations in the desert, the K-9 Vajras have seen significant deployments in eastern Ladakh following the standoff. Minor adjustments were made to deploy the tracked howitzers in eastern Ladakh. The Indian Army is also reportedly procuring winterisation kits to ensure that the howitzers work in sub-zero conditions. The deployment of the K-9 Vajras gun has proven fruitful along the Northern borders.
It has also been reported that the Indian Army is in the midst of procuring Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) and Mounted Gun Systems (MGS). It is likely that the induction of Pinakas are in the works and that six more regiments of these weapon platforms are going through the procurement process, and they will soon see deliveries.
The new Pinaka regiments will see electronic and mechanical improvements, and the Pinakas will be able to fire a myriad of ammunition over significantly longer ranges. A Pinaka regiment has been inducted in High Altitude Areas (HAA) along the Northern border. This was done following extensive validation. The MoD has reportedly approved the procurement of guided extended-range rockets for Pinaka. The Pinaka would be able to fire accurately at longer ranges.
The Indian Army is also procuring a ‘Loitering Munition System’, augmenting its surveillance, target acquisition and precision strike capability. The indigenously developed ATAGS is in the advanced stages of trial. This gun system has many firsts to its credit – 25-litre chamber, long-range, and rapid and sustained rates of fire. It has been learnt that the user trials have been satisfactory.