The Army is planning to buy a 105mm/37 calibre mounted gun system for deployment in the highlands and high-altitude areas along India’s northern borders, which it shares with Pakistan and China, to improve its mountain warfare prowess.
The Indian Army now only has towed gun systems, which are longer and heavier than mounted gun systems and hence provide less mobility in difficult terrains.
According to an Army Request for Information (RFI) released on Friday, field units would be equipped with the new mounted gun systems for “shot and scoot” capability for mountain operations. Indian vendors were contacted for the information.
According to the RFI, the gun systems should be able to fire all in-service ammunition during trials, have an inertial navigation system-based sight system that can provide orientation and fixation to the gun system, and be able to engage targets by direct firing at any time of day or night, as well as have a built-in test facility to identify faults and support equipment repairs.
The RFI also asked vendors for information on the status of development, whether the equipment’s components will be sourced locally, the communication system to be used for inter-communication within the gun crew, and the equipment’s maintenance philosophy, as well as information on its mobility parameters such as fuel, emission norms, and speed, among other things.
The most recent RFI reflects the Army’s artillery modernization ambitions, which have accelerated in recent years. A separate RFI was issued last year for 155mm mounted gun systems (for medium regiments).
Last year, during a multinational military exercise of Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) countries, Bharat Forge launched the indigenous Multi-terrain Artillery Gun (MArG) 155 – BR. In the presence of Army Chief General M M Naravane, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh unveiled the multi-terrain artillery gun.
The advantages of a mounted gun system versus a towed gun system, according to a senior Army official, are numerous. The officer noted that in a towed gun system, the gun must be pulled by the vehicle, increasing the vehicle’s and gun’s combined length, whereas in a mounted gun system, the barrel element is placed on the vehicle’s body, resulting in a shorter combined length.
“In the mountains, the roads are narrow and the curves are steep. The combined length of the vehicle and the gun being towed reduces the turning radius in mountains, making movement difficult,” the officer explained.
“However, the barrel of a mounted gun system is mounted atop a vehicle. This shortens the vehicle’s overall length, boosting its manoeuvrability in challenging hilly terrain.
“Because of its diminutive size, it seems to be any other vehicle, making it impossible to detect,” the officer explained. A mounted gun system’s gun slides down and anchors on the ground during firing, then is lifted up later.
While plans to buy medium guns as part of its artillery modernisation programme are in the works, insiders say field guns are lighter and easier to deploy in high-altitude places.
“Because the barrel of medium cannons is longer, the vehicle on which it would be mounted is also larger. “Field guns are lighter, and the vehicle carrying them is smaller, allowing for more mobility in difficult terrains,” noted the officer described above.