New Delhi: The Indian Army is looking ahead to augment its long-range firepower. Having ordered 114 Dhanush artillery guns, the Army already has one regiment operational and is expecting to receive all the guns by 2026, according to defence sources.
Additionally, the Army is also looking at increasing the range of the Pinaka Multi-Rocket Launch Systems (MRLS) and the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) is working on it. The Pralay surface-to-surface quasi-ballistic missile too is in advanced stages of induction, sources said.
A defence source was quoted by a media outlet as saying, “One regiment that was equipped with Dhanush was operationalised only last year. There has been slight delay due to some imported components, among others… All that has stabilised. By 2026, Army should be getting balance regiments.”
Dhanush, an upgrade of the existing 155 mm, 39-calibre Bofors FH 77 gun, is a 155 mm, 45-calibre towed artillery gun with a range of 36 km, and it has demonstrated a range of 38 km with specialised ammunition. It. The Advanced Weapons and Equipment India Limited, carved after corporatisation of the Ordnance Factory Board, now manufacturing the Dhanush guns has a team on site and is working with the Army, sources stated.
The war in Ukraine has underscored the importance of long-range firepower, both precision as well as saturation, and MRLS have proven to be decisive. In this regard, the indigenous Pinaka Rocket System developed by the DRDO has been a success story for the Army, according to the source.
Currently, the Army has four Pinaka regiments and six more are expected to be inducted in the next few years. In addition to adding numbers, the Army is keen on extending its range as well the configurations available. “The induction of additional regiments of Pinaka is likely to commence shortly. The DRDO is also exploring increasing the range of Pinaka rockets to 120 km and 300 km,” the source stated.
According to reports, the range of the original Pinaka rockets was 37 km which was enhanced to 45 km with the upgraded Mk-1, while the guided Pinaka has a range of 75 km which the Defence Acquisition Council has already cleared for procurement.
In April 2022, DRDO and the Army had successfully flight-tested Pinaka Area Denial Munition rocket system. Pinaka with a range of 120 km is under development. The Army is scheduled to conduct trials of these extended and guided Pinaka rockets very soon, sources said.
The Army has five Grad rocket regiments and three Smerch regiments both of Russian-origin among other MRLS. Smerch is the longest range rocket system in the Army’s inventory with a range of 90 km. Pinaka will eventually become the mainstay of multi-rocket systems.
For Indian Army, beyond MRLS, the BRAHMOS supersonic cruise missile is the mainstay for long-range firepower. “Missile capability is being enhanced in terms of range and accuracy for both ballistic and cruise missiles by DRDO. Range of BRAHMOS missile has been extended and DRDO is also exploring development of a number of other missiles with various ranges and capabilities,” sources said.
The Army’s Regiment of Artillery, is inducting a range of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to support the artillery teams as well as deploying a new Battlefield Management System. In March, the Regiment of Artillery issued a tender for fast-track procurement of 10 Runway-Independent Unmanned Aerial Vehicles as well a tender for development and procurement of 65 Tactical Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (Runway Independent) from indigenous sources.
In December 2022, the Regiment of Artillery issued a tender for 106 Inertial Navigation Systems through Fast Track Procedure under Buy (Indian) category for ground-based surveillance sensors, Observation Post Officers, guns, and Long-Range Vectors.