SP Guide Publications puts forth a well compiled articulation of issues, pursuits and accomplishments of the Indian Army, over the years

— General Manoj Pande, Indian Army Chief

I am confident that SP Guide Publications would continue to inform, inspire and influence.

— Admiral R. Hari Kumar, Indian Navy Chief

My compliments to SP Guide Publications for informative and credible reportage on contemporary aerospace issues over the past six decades.

— Air Chief Marshal V.R. Chaudhari, Indian Air Force Chief

Army Guns for 400 Artillery Pieces

From Analog to Digital, Artillery Systems in the Army are being modernised for the New Age

Issue 4 - 2023 By Ranjit KumarPhoto(s): By Elbit Systems
ATHOS Gun from Elbit fits the requirements for the 400 TGS required by the Indian Army


The Bofors Guns scandal in mid-eighties led to a very long three decades lull in Indian Army Artillery modernisation. However, since last few years, the Army seems to be sitting once again on the driver’s seat and giving a planned shape to its Field Artillery Rationalisation plan, which encompasses acquisition of all categories of artillery for widespread deployment on various geographic terrains bordering India-China and India-Pakistan region.

Under this plan the Indian Army will soon issue a tender for 400 155mm/52 calibre Towed Gun System (TGS) worth $750 million. During the last few years the Indian Army has seen sudden spurt in implementation of its artillery acquisition plan, which aimed to acquire almost 3,000 pieces of 155mm artillery guns by 2025. In spite of fast tracking of the process and successes in indigenisation, Indian Army seems to be far away from meeting this target.

Push Ahead with Indigenous Artillery Systems

But the lessons learnt from the Ukraine war are likely to give a push to this modernisation plan as the study conducted by the army on the lessons learnt is reported to have recommended the fast tracking of Artillery Guns acquisition process. After analysing the manner in which both, the Ukranian and Russian Armies faced each other, the Indian Army learnt significant lessons that artillery is the key to inflicting heavy toll on advancing enemy lines and weapons stores, hence the Indian Army has decided to go all out for acquiring the field artilleries. The lessons from Ukraine war has led Indian Army on how to advance it’s firepower, which lays greater thrust on mobility, precision attacks, range, quick strikes and survivability, in which artillery guns were found to be on top, though the army also plans to augment this firepower by acquiring more rocket systems and missiles. But, the rapid fire ability of the 155mm gun systems makes it more potent weapon.

The Indian Army is swiftly transitioning from analogue to digital, manual to automatic, and conventional to smart, ensuring it’s ready to face future challenges with cutting-edge technology

Though Ukraine war seems to be the motivation behind fast tracking of the artillery modernisation plan, the Indian Army had begun inducting the 155 guns through import and domestic developments much before. These included four contracts for 155mm howitzers. These gun systems include – Dhanush, Sharang, the M777 Ultra Lightweight Howitzers (ULH) and K9 Self Propelled Vajra Guns. Dhanush Guns are the modified, upgraded Bofors Guns with some electronic upgrades. The Sharang Guns have been up-gunned from 130mm to 155mm. The Seven and Five regiments have already been upgraded with new self-propelled guns.

After three decades, the Bofors gun scandal jinx has thus finally been broken. After 1987 the Army could not induct any fresh guns, leading to much anxieties among defence planners. Now, it has been decided that 155mm guns will be the standard calibre of all the guns in future with automated systems and assemblies. The army strategists are giving new thrust on development of new technologies in sighting systems, ammunition manufacturing, metallurgy and networking of guns.

Focus on Towed Gun Systems

Accordingly, the army now plans to induct 400 new Howitzers. This will promote Indian defence manufacturing, hence the Army has decided to go in for Indian private or public firms. Army has proposed that as part of the indigenously designed, developed and made (IDDM) in India weapon systems under the Buy Indian category. This includes the supply of towing vehicles also. It is well known that the Indian Defence Headquarters has already issued a tender for 307 Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) and is in the process of finding a mounted gun system for deployment on Sino-Indian and India Pak borders.

Army is proceeding according to the Field Artillery Rationalisation Plan and accordingly procured some Guns in various designs like towed, tracked, wheeled and mounted on high mobility vehicles and ultra light air droppable i.e. Guns which can be dropped right on to the Army posts, which will take very less time, like an hour or so by helicopters, whereas the earlier mode of taking the guns to the posts by road was very difficult and time consuming. The Indian Army has been equipped with heavy lift helicopters which will also serve this purpose. The Heavy lift helicopter acquired from US is indeed a versatile helicopter to move troops and weapon loads to high altitude peaks like on the heights of Eastern Ladakh. The light Guns are being acquired especially with this purpose hence the Army has decided to get more of these guns, which is to be fully Made in India. According to army officials the Indian Army also plans to acquire nextgeneration artillery guns with advanced features from domestic manufacturers.

The 400 new TGS Guns that will be ordered is expected to be much lighter (less than 15 tonnes) and versatile and capable of incorporating future technical advancements. The TGS will become the mainstay Gun of the Indian Artillery. The TGS can operate in all terrains of India-China and India-Pakistan borders like -mountains, plains, high altitude, desert and semi-desert. The proposal also includes acquisition of towing vehicles along with TGS under the Buy Indian IDDM category. This proposal would soon to be moved to Defence Ministry and the ministry is expected to take a call on this very soon, in view of the urgency of its deployment on mountains.

A Vision for Future Artillery

According to officials, the Artillery Regiment is getting ready to face all future challenges as the Artillery is undergoing huge transformation – from analogue to digital, manual to automatic and conventional to smart so as to meet any challenge. The lessons learnt from the Russia-Ukraine war are being incorporated in the capability development plans and artillery doctrines. The Artillery regiment is also in the process of acquiring advanced cutting-edge technology including loitering munitions, swarm drones, and tactical remotely piloted aerial systems. Accordingly, the Artillery Combat, Command and Control Systems (ACCCS) is undergoing major upgrades.

As is well known the Army headquarters has already issued a tender for advanced towed guns systems (ATGS) and is in the process of finding a mounted gun system for deployment on Sino-Indian and India-Pak borders. Army’s regiment of artillery wants to develop and utilise the expertise of Indian industry and modernisation with indigenous guns, which is expected to be completed in next two decades. As there is continuous advancement in technology, the Indian army also desires next generation artillery guns with advanced features developed indigenously.

(The writer is a Senior Journalist and Strategic Affairs Analyst)