The Indian Army is treading the twin path of 'indigenisation' and 'mediumisation' of its artillery guns with the 155mm gun being the preferred calibre—a process that is likely to be complete in the next 19 years.
"The 155 mm will be the standard calibre of all artillery guns in future with automated systems and assemblies. The emphasis is on development of new technologies in sighting systems, ammunition manufacturing, metallurgy, and networking of guns," a top source in India’s military establishment said.
"The plan for mediumisation with indigenous guns is likely to be completed by the year 2042. Capability developments are also planned in the fields of precision fires, rockets, missiles and surveillance equipment," the official added.
Significantly, India is increasingly becoming self-reliant—both in the public and private domains—in the manufacturing of artillery ammunition which is a critical capability to fight a prolonged war.
The Indian Army’s artillery gun profile comprises several calibers—130 mm (M-46) Russian medium guns, 122 mm (Russian field guns), 105 mm, 122 mm and the 155 mm with the wide gun variants being seen as an issue of concern.
Artillery guns are classed under light, medium, and heavy guns. Artillery ammunition up to 105mm is considered 'light' and is mainly used for close support of ground troops. 'Medium' lies in the 106–155mm range and is usually used for bombardment, while projectiles more than 155mm fall in the 'heavy' category and are used for attacking rear installations.
Another important thrust area for the Indian Army’s artillery is the development of rockets and missiles with longer ranges and greater precision and of munitions with increased ranges and accuracy. "DRDO is also exploring increasing the range of ‘Pinaka’ rockets to 120 and 300 km. The missile capability is being enhanced in terms of range and accuracy for both ballistic and cruise missiles by DRDO. Range of the BrahMos missile has been extended and DRDO is also exploring development of a number of other missiles with various ranges and capabilities," the source said.
"Recent conflicts around the world including the Russia-Ukraine war have re-established the primacy of firepower as a battle winning factor. Global attention today is focused on artillery equipment with longer ranges, higher volume of fire and greater precision," the official said.
In the historical context since World War-I, it has been seen that 80 per cent of the war casualties are due to artillery fire. Developments in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict have only buttressed the crucial importance of the artillery.