The Army has significantly bolstered its fire power along the frontier with China by deploying a range of rockets and artillery weapons and plans to procure an array of additional systems, including 100 K9 Vajra howitzers and UAVs, to augment combat prowess.
The Artillery units of the Indian Army already deployed K-9 Vajra Tracked Self-Propelled Howitzers, ultra-light M-777 howitzers, Pinaka rocket systems and Dhanush gun systems.
Sources in the defence establishment said the Army plans to equip its Artillery units along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) with a range of up to 90 kms.
“We are looking at procuring UAVs having a range of 15-20 kms as well as those having capabilities to carry out surveillance at a range of up to 80kms having an endurance of four hours,” said a source.
At present, almost all UAVs in the Army’s inventory are being operated by the Army Aviation units.
The sources said the Army is set to procure a new batch of 100 more K9 Vajras howitzers, in addition to 100 such guns ordered in 2017.
“The Defence Acquisition Council has cleared the proposal for ordering 100 more K9 Vajras. The Request for Proposal (RFP) will be issued soon,” the source said.
The K9 Vajras were originally procured for deployment in deserts, but following the eastern Ladakh standoff, the Army deployed a significant number of the howitzers in that high-altitude region.
The sources said minor adjustments were made for deployment of the tracked howitzers in eastern Ladakh.
“We are also procuring winterisation kits so the howitzers work in sub-zero temperature,” the source said, adding the Vajra guns are roaring in high altitude area along Northern borders.
The sources said the Army is also in the process of procuring Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System, commonly known as ATAGS, and Mounted Gun Systems (MGS).
They said induction of more advanced Pinaka weapon systems is in the offing, adding six more regiments of the systems are being procured and their delivery would commence soon.
The sources said the new Pinaka regiments will be equipped with electronically and mechanically improved weapon system capable of firing variety of ammunition over longer ranges.
One regiment of Pinaka has been inducted along Northern borders in high altitude area after extensive validation, they said, adding the defence ministry has already approved procurement of guided extended range rockets for Pinaka.
“The rocket would be capable of firing at longer ranges with significant accuracy,” the source said.
The Army is also in the process of procuring ‘Loitering Munition System’ thereby augmenting its surveillance, target acquisition and precision strike capability.
“We are also in the process of procuring indigenously designed and developed Loitering Weapon System with enhanced strike capability,” the source said.
On the indigenously developed Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS), the sources said it is in advanced stages of trial.
This gun system has many firsts to its credit — 25-litre chamber, long range, as also rapid and sustained rates of fire.
The sources said the user trials on the gun systems have been satisfactorily conducted and that there are few procedural issues that are being taken care of.