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By Bulbul Singh

01 Sept 08. The Indian Army has launched a multi billion dollars modernization plan under which variety of artillery, air defense, missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) systems will be inducted in the next five to seven years. The thrust of the new acquisition plan would be to induct high technology platforms and systems, improve night fighting capability substantially and C4ISR systems integrating the battle theatre with the headquarters through dedicated satellite and Information Technology systems.

“The Indian Army will also substantially increase the artillery firepower through acquisition of 52 calibre 155mm self-propelled artillery guns, precision guided weapons, extended range rockets and missiles,” said a senior official of the Indian defence ministry.

The Indian army will spend around $20bn in the next five to seven years to purchase high-tech assets and integrate them through C4ISR systems.

The Indian Army is also preparing to fight future battles in high terrain and is on a global hunt for the purchase of 155mm ultra lightweight howitzer guns for which UK’s BAE Systems and Singapore Technologies are in the race. The 140 pieces being purchased will be used by the Indian Army’s mountain formations and will be lifted under-slung from helicopters which are also being procured.

Currently, the Indian Army is on a global hunt for a purchase of a variety of 155mm self-propelled guns worth over $3.5bn, for which a Request for Proposal has been issued. The Indian Army is purchasing 400 towed howitzer guns of 155/52 calibre, and another 185 pieces of wheeled 155mm guns.

The RFP has been sent to BAE Systems U.K., Kermetal of Slovakia, Giat Industries of France; IMI and Soltam of Israel, Samsung of South Korea, United Defense of U.S.A., Rheinmetall of Germany and Rosoboronexport of Russia. The 185 wheeled self-propelled howitzer will be Hercules C-1340 J-portable.

The Indian Army decided to change all the existing field guns 0f various calibres to 155mm self-propelled guns under ‘The Indian Army Field Artillery Rationalization Plan’ of 1999. The Request For Proposal also issued this year has been issued to BAE Systems, General Dynamics/Rheinmetall of Germany and Samsung South Korea.

It is estimated that the Indian Army will procure around 1600 155mm/52 calibre guns of different varieties including towed, wheeled and tracked self-propelled howitzers.

To increase the range of firepower, the Indian Army is purchasing 300mm Smerch multi-barrel Rocket Launcher systems from Russia with a range of 90 kilometres.

Besides, the homegrown Multi-Barrel Rocket Launcher (MBRL), Pinaka is currently in serial production with the help of private sector major Larsen & Toubro and the Tata Group. In addition, the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) is also developing an upgraded version of the Pinaka MMBRL, a prototype of which was tested early this month from India’s missile testing center Chandipur-on-sea in Balasore in the eastern state of Orissa. “The advanced version of the Pinaka is capable of firing 12 rockets in a single salvo with 1.2 tones of high explosives within 40 seconds,” said a scientist of DRDO.

In addition, to add to the fire range, the Indian Army is inducting the supersonic cruise missile, BrahMos, produced in collaboration with Russia. BrahMos, with a speed of Mach 3, has a range of 290 kilometres. The land version of BrahMos is a ‘terrain hugging’ supersonic missile, which is not easily detectable.

To enhance C4I capabilities, the Indian Army is on a global hunt to purchase unspecified numbers of Battlefield Management Systems worth over $1bn, under which the soldier in the battlefield will be directly connected to Command Headquarters.

Ultimately, the homegrown Artillery Command and Control System (ACCS), built by state-owned Bharat Electronics Ltd. (BEL) Bangalore, will also be integrated with the BM

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