On 197th Gunners' Day, a look at how the Indian Army’s artillery regiment is arming itself. The Army is looking at acquiring 400 TGS which can operate in all terrains

New Delhi: It’s not the indigenous Dhanush or the Advanced Towed Artillery Gun (ATAGS) but the new 155 mm/52 Calibre Towed Gun Systems (TGS) that’s earmarked to be the mainstay gun of the artillery in the future,

Sources in the defence and security establishment told that while a Request for Proposal (RFP) for ATAGS had been sent to the Indian firms Kalyani Group and TATA — both of which have developed the weapon — what the Army is actually looking at is the much lighter and more agile TGS, which has more automation than ATAGS.

Talking about the modernisation in the Artillery Regiment, a source said, “In the future, we are also looking at 155 mm/52 Calibre Towed Gun Systems (TGS), which will become the mainstay gun of Artillery.”

In December last year that the Indian Army issued a fresh Request for Information (RFI) to acquire a 155mm/52 calibre TGS that had opened up a new avenue for induction of an Israeli gun that the Army was keen on.

The gun in question was the Autonomous Towed Howitzer Ordnance System (ATHOS), built by Israeli firm Elbit, which was in the reckoning for a mega contract from the Indian Army for over a decade.

The RFI sent out in December had said that the weight of the gun system “be preferably less than 15 tons”. This clause is why the Israeli firm is back in the race for supplying the ATHOS to the Indian Army.

Given that the ATHOS weighs less than 15 tons while the ATAGS is well over 18 tons, industry sources see the new RFI as an opening for the Israeli weapon system.

‘Unprecedented Transformation’

Significantly, 28 September is celebrated as Gunners’ Day. It was on this day in 1827 that the first Indian Artillery unit, Royal Indian Artillery, was raised.

Sources said that the Army is looking at acquiring 400 TGS which can operate in all terrains — mountainous, plains, high altitude, desert and semi-desert.

They said that the Regiment of Artillery is gearing up to face future challenges and is witnessing an unprecedented transformation from manual to automatic, analogue to digital, and conventional to smart, so as to be fully prepared to meet any challenge and contingency.

“Recent conflicts around the world, including the Russia-Ukraine war, have banished the myth about the primacy of firepower as a battle-winning factor. The Regiment of Artillery has learned a number of lessons from the ongoing conflict, and these are being plotted in the capability development plans and Artillery doctrines,” a source said.

The source further said: “The capability development arena, which is based on the principle of ‘Modernisation through Indigenisation’, is progressing well according to timelines. 155mm will be the standard calibre of all artillery guns, (just) as with brands.”

Sources added that the Ultra Light Howitzers, K9 Vajra Gun Systems, Dhanush Gun Systems, Sharang Gun Systems, Pinaka Rockets, and Swathi Weapon Locating Radar have been successfully inducted into the Army.

Requests for Proposal (RFPs) have also been issued for two more gun systems — 155 mm/52 Calibre Mounted Gun System and 155 mm/52 Calibre ATAGS.

In order to augment and strengthen its intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance architecture to achieve enhanced battlefield transparency, the Regiment of Artillery is in the process of procuring niche technology including loitering munitions, swarm drones, and tactical remotely piloted aerial systems.

The induction of these potent niche fire power systems will enable delivery of decisive and destructive firepower and will restore the status of artillery as the ‘Arm of Decision’, the source said, adding that due focus is also being given to ensure networked and automated systems.

“As part of this process, major upgrades are happening shortly in the Artillery Combat Command and Control System (ACCCS). Even the Battlefield Surveillance System (BSS) is being fielded shortly,” the source said.