Self-Propelled Catapult Guns and Tampella Mortars de-commissioned
The Indian Army decommissioned two longest serving Artillery systems, the 160 mm Tampella Mortars and 130 mm Self-Propelled M-46 Catapult Guns from service at Mahajan Field Firing Ranges on 16 March. The ceremony included customary firing of last salvos. Two existing weapon systems: Vijayanta tanks and 130 mm M-46 guns were merged to form 130 mm Catapult with a range of more than 27km. After the 1965 and 1971 wars a mobile artillery gun system was needed to support strike formations on the Western front. This gave idea to make this hybrid system that was inducted in 1981 and successfully took part in several operations. The 160 mm Tampella Mortars were imported from the Israeli Defence Forces. The weapon with a range of 9.6km was inducted after 1962 war with China so that it could clear the high crests of the Himalayan terrain. The mortar was also deployed in the Leepa valley and the Hajipir Bowl and played an important role in securing the Line of Control. They also proved their mettle in 1999 Kargil War. The decommissioning of these weapon systems will make way for new weapons with latest technology.
Self-reliance in Defence Sector
Indian government is working on promoting the indigenization in defence sector. Various policies of the government aim to harness the capabilities of the public and private sector industries to make India Atmanirbhar with respect to defence procurements. The government is preparing second ‘positive indigenization list’ so as to promote domestic manufacturing of defence related products. In order to foster innovation and technology development in defence and aerospace, Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) framework was launched in 2018. It engages MSMEs, Start-ups, individual innovators, R&D institutes and academia to enhance innovation and entrepreneurship in defence sector.
Idex has funded various MSMEs/Startups in order to encourage research towards challenges/Problem statement of Indian Forces. Defence Minister had launched DISC IV on 29 September 2020. Along with this Idex 4 FAUJI was launched to support innovations by forces personnel serving on field.
The High Powered Selection Committee (HPSC) reviews proposals received through Idex open challenges. OFB is now engaged in in-house R&D projects for developing Armament, Ammunition and Equipment items of Land Systems pertaining to Artillery and Air Defence Gun Systems, Small Arms Weapons Systems, Armored Fighting Vehicles and futuristic smart ammunition systems. Through Technology Development Fund scheme, DRDO aims to fund private sector industry, specially MSMEs and startups.
The Ministry of Defence has come up with various measures to reduce the timeline of defence procurements and manufacturing. Monitoring mechanisms have been roped in as part of DAP-2020.
Sri Lankan Navy receives training aid from Indian Navy for capacity building
Gopal Baglay, the Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, handed over training aids worth Rs. 81 lakhs (about 22 million LKR) to the Sri Lankan Navy for capacity building. He was on a formal visit to the Northern and Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka and handed over the aid to the Commander Eastern Naval Area of the Sri Lanka Navy. He attended a ceremony at the prestigious Naval and Maritime Academy (NMA), Trincomalee.
In 2019, the then Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh committed to provide training items to the Sri Lankan Navy to boost the cooperation between the two navies. Indian Navy helped in the development of Varunastra heavy weight torpedo, Underwater Telephone, Light Weight Torpedo’s working model, Gas Turbine cut model and Bathythermograph. With the help of Sri Lankan Navy and OEMs from India, these systems were delivered to Sri Lanka in 2020. These systems will help in supporting specialization courses that will be conducted at the NMA.
India understands the importance of close bilateral defence ties with its coastal neighbours and has launched SAGAR – Security for Growth for All in Region initiative to enhance the relationships with the countries.
INS Dhruv to be commissioned in 2021
INS Dhruv, developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), will be commissioned later this year and will be used to track satellites and strategic missiles. Its main customers will be Indian Navy and National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) as it will be used to map the Indian Ocean bed. The surveillance ship has been indigenously built at the Hindustan Shipyard Limited, Vishakhapatnam. India is focusing to enhance its maritime domain awareness and the 15,000 tonne ship has been developed as a part of this project. It will protect the Indian cities and Military establishments from missiles by acting as an early warning system.
Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars, which are said to be game changers in the radar technology, have been added to the weapon system of INS Dhruv. It can monitor satellites and can scan their spectrums. The range and missile capabilities of adversary nations in the Indo-Pacific region can be calculated by this ship and will increase India’s strength in this region. Currently, this facility is available only with the US, China, the UK, Russia and France. Also, it can prove to be a way to counter China’s influence in the Indian Ocean. Presently, this region is monitored by Indian Navy from the Gulf of Aden.
As per the Ministry of Defence, this ship will provide ‘ECG of the Indian Ocean’ to the Indian Navy. Thus, Indian Navy can plan better strategic and offensive tactics. It will also multiply Indian Navy’s ocean surveillance capabilities.
AMCA program to be sanctioned soon
The Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), India’s fifth generation fighter programme, is expected to be approved by the Indian Government by the middle of 2021. The project, along with its design, development and prototypes is estimated to cost about Rs. 15,000 crores. As per the modernization map of the Indian Air Force (IAF), 6 squadrons with around 240 stealth fighter jets will be deployed from 2032. These squadrons will form a new and important element of IAF’s future air combat. The Mk-1 versions of AMCA will form the first 2 squadrons, while the rest 4 squadrons will be formed by the Mk-2, the more advanced aircraft. The Mk-2 version of AMCA will have a raft of sixth generation technologies, which will be more advanced as compared to the technology used in fighter jets in service globally.
The American GE 414 engines will power the Mk-1 stealth fighter jets, while the Mk-2 jets will be equipped with the indigenous engines.