Some days, earlier the article was written about Defense Standardization in IAF as the current need, but this is not only faced by IAF, Indian Army also faces the same problem. For those who don’t know what is defense standardization, please check out the Article by Clicking here,
The Problem That Can Arise
Here, we would be just taking the problem in a particular area which is faced and it is in Howitzers. We all know the need for howitzers, as we have both neighbors in our close proximity itself, and the war on the land is inevitable.
Having large boundaries with both countries, you will also need a higher number of howitzers. Here, we would be mainly talking about self-propelled and field artillery systems.
India has currently has following howitzers
- 105mm Light Field Gun
- 122mm D-30 Howitzer
- 130mm M-46 Field Gun; the upgraded version of this gun is the 155mm Sharang Artillery Gun
- 155mm Haubits FH77/B Howitzer
- The 155mm Dhanush (howitzer)The gun is based on the FH77 and approved for series production in 2019.
- 155mm M777 howitzer
- 155mm DRDO Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS)
- 105mm FV433 Abbot self-propelled gun
- 130mm M-46 Catapult self-propelled gun
- 155mm K9 Vajra
What one can see over here is that India is standardizing the 155mm howitzers which is actually a very good sign of for Defense Standardization in the Army.
Now as said Indian Army is standardizing 155mm but at the same time, the type of ammunition is not yet standard
Here, I am actually talking about the logistics issue. Now, Let’s revise, we have Dhanush which is an Indegeniously Made 155mm gun. Then we have the M-777 ULH howitzer from the USA which uses Excalibur Ammunition. Then we have K-9 Vajra, South Korean, which has different ammunition. Also, Sharang has different ammunition
So, Each and regiment needs different types of shells, and factories have to make different shells for different Ammunition. This creates a logistics issue and also fails to create the economy for a single shell.
Attempts seem to have been made to make a general shell for all of these guns. But when you do that, the problems come at the cost of performance. This means the gun might not perform at the optimum level. And above that, the issues of reliability still arise.
In recent times only we have seen 2 such cases For M777:-The barrel of one of the first guns inducted into service exploded during a calibration test in 2017. Faulty ammunition supplied by the Ordnance Factory Board was blamed. And also same happened with the ATAGS howitzer where ammunition was again blamed. The thing is even though being 155mm guns, each gun require the shell modified as per their requirement in order to perform Optimally
What The Future Holds?
Indian Army, like I said already has guns from different countries, the barrel is standardized but ammunition is yet not. And at the same time, we still have a need for more Howitzers. Right now we need at least 1500 Towed Howitzers and more than 800 truck-mounted howitzers too.
So, here, India was planning to go with the Israel ATHOS which is a 155mm howitzer. But thing is, if the howitzer is brought, then the ATAGS project in spite of being one of the best howitzers will term useless. Also, if one says that some ATHOS and some ATAGS, well we would be just messing up the logistics like IAF.
ATAGS is right now made with Kalyani and Tata group. If such huge order of 1500 howitzer is placed, it would be giving a significant amount of boost to the domestic Industry, Also, with this order, even these private players can bring more innovation and can make ATAGS better as the economy of scale will be created. Also, this will give a note to other countries that actually ATAGS is good, and in the future, it will open the doors of exporting the same.
Indian Army should not go with the ATHOS order, as it will totally mess up the domestic industry and also the logistics of the Army also. Given a big order, ATAGS could also be improved over the years and ARMY then will now totally use the Indigenous world-class products and it will create a win-win situation for all. And also it will help in standardizing the ammunition of the whole artillery which would again make ammunition cheaper as it would be ordered in bulk quantities and Aatmanirbhar Bharat would also be promoted.