Read: What Army Chief General Manoj Pande Said About 'Relevance Of Firepower' As Seen In Russia-Ukraine War

Ujjwal Shrotryia

Sep 20, 2023, 03:52 PM | Updated 04:03 PM IST

Indian Army Chief General Manoj Pande.
Indian Army Chief General Manoj Pande.

Indian Army Chief General Manoj Pande spoke about the relevance of firepower in gaining a decisive advantage in the battlefield, in a speech yesterday (19 September).

He was speaking at the inaugural 'General SF Rodrigues Memorial Lecture' in Manekshaw Centre located in New Delhi.

The lecture, organised in memory of the late General S F Rodrigues, former Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and Governor of Punjab, marked his 90th birthday.

The event commenced with reflections on the late COAS's legacy, followed by a keynote address titled 'Changing Character of War and Firepower' delivered by Lieutenant General Raj Shukla (Retd), former GoC-in-C Army Training Command (ARTRAC).

Here is what the Army Chief said about the changing nature of war and firepower.

Russia-Ukraine War

In his address, General Pande underscored the significance of long-range firepower and its potential to provide a decisive advantage in modern warfare.

He cited the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict as a pertinent example, stating, "the recent conflicts, and especially the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, have brought to fore certain key indicators, which have enabled us to appreciate the contemporary character of war, and also the relevance of firepower in accruing a decisive advantage in the battlefield."

General Pande emphasised the pivotal role of technology in modern warfare and stressed the need to integrate advanced technologies into the Indian Army's operational framework.

"Primacy of technology in the modern battlefield has been amply demonstrated in this conflict. A natural fallout therefore points towards infusing these technologies into our war-fighting system," he said.

This follows two recent incidents in Russia-Ukraine war, where the effective utilisation of long-range firepower, coupled with cutting-edge technology and real-time intelligence, resulted in significant damage to high-value targets.

First, Ukrainian forces reportedly employed British-supplied Storm Shadow missiles to successfully destroy two Russian vessels — a 'Minsk' Ropucha-class landing ship and the Russian Kilo 636.3 submarine 'Rostov-on-Don' — both undergoing repairs at the Russian naval base in Sevastopol in the Black Sea.

Second, the Russians used a long-range variant of the Lancet loitering munition to target a Ukrainian MiG-29 fighter jet stationed at Krivoy Rog airbase, located more than 65 kilometres from the frontline.

In both these cases, innovative use of long-range vectors with effective use of modern technology with real-time intelligence destroyed high-value targets which otherwise would not have been possible (or extremely hard to accomplish) by contemporary means.

About The Modernisation Of Indian Army's Artillery Regiments

General Pande emphasised the importance of incorporating new technologies to ensure the army remains relevant in the contemporary and future operational environments.

He stated, "The need to remain congruent to the contemporary environment and keep pace with future needs stands relevant even today. These aspects form the backbone of our current transformation initiatives, which we have put in motion."

Discussing the modernisation of artillery regiments within the army, General Pande mentioned the army's intention to acquire an additional 100 K-9 Vajra-T howitzers in addition to the 145 M-777 ultra-light howitzers (ULH) already delivered.

This effort is part of the ongoing process of transitioning artillery regiments, referred to as 'mediumsation' which involves replacing 120mm and 130mm artillery guns with 155mm caliber artillery guns and howitzers.

General Pande stated, "modernisation, especially mediumsation of artillery is underway. With 145 of ultra-light howitzers having been already procured, we have seven of the ULH regiments which are currently operational. Our indigenous pursuit includes the procurement of 100 K-9 Vajra self-propelled medium artillery guns, of which an additional 100 we plan to procure."

He further highlighted that light artillery regiments are being transformed into ULH regiments, and additional rocket and missile units are being introduced to enhance reach, firepower, and rapid response capabilities along the northern borders.

He said "light artillery regiments are being converted into ULH regiments, as also additional rocket and missile units, aimed at improving the reach, firepower and reaction capabilities along the northern borders".

"Army is looking at procuring guided extended range munition for the Pinaka rocket system, as also area denial munitions, both of these are in advance stages of trial," the Army Chief added.

Raising Of Independent SATA Battery For Mountain Strike Corps

As demonstrated by the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the integration of real-time long-range observation capabilities with drones into the artillery regiment's order of battle (ORBAT) has significantly enhanced its lethality.

In response, the army conducted a thorough analysis of incorporating these long-range observation technologies into its existing strike and pivot corps, known as surveillance and target acquisition (SATA) within the army.

This analysis have prompted a reorganisation, where these SATA batteries will be converted to SATA regiments.

General Pande stated that a re-organisation of the erstwhile SATA batteries will be conducted and will be converted to SATA regiments for supporting the Strike and Pivot Corps of the army.

Additionally, the Mountain Strike Corps will receive its independent SATA battery, enhancing its firepower and surveillance capabilities.

General Pande explained, "The reorganisation of the former SATA batteries into SATA regiments will bolster support for our pivot and strike corps formations, while the Mountain Strike Corps will benefit from the establishment of an independent SATA battery."

Staff Writer at Swarajya. Writes on Indian Military and Defence.

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