Friday, September 28, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Army to upgrade 130 mm guns
Israeli consortium to help
S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

A Cheetah helicopter flys over a Bofors gun at a fire power demonstration in Devlali on Wednesday.
A Cheetah helicopter flies over a Bofors gun at a fire power demonstration in Devlali on Wednesday. — PTI photo

Devlali (Maharashtra), September 27
To add more punch to the firepower of artillery, the Army has decided to upgrade its 130 mm guns to the level of 155 mm Howitzer guns, popularly known as Bofors guns, with the help of an Israeli consortium.

This ambitious plan of the Indian Army is expected to be completed in a phased manner before the end of the 10th Defence Plan, highly placed sources in the Artillery Regiment said here today.

The upgradation of the 1800-odd 130 mm guns to the level of Bofors guns will enhance manifold the firepower of the Artillery, which along with the Infantry Regiment was instrumental in evicting Pakistani regular soldiers who had occupied high-altitude mountain peaks and ridgelines in Kargil.

Addressing the visiting newspersons on the eve of the Artillery Regiment’s 174th Raising Day, Commandant of the School of Artillery, Lt-Gen Avtar Singh said “upgradation of 130 mm guns to 155 mm is going on as per schedule.”

While he refused to reveal the timeframe for the completion of the upgradation project, sources told The Tribune that an initial order for the supply of 120 gun barrels for the upgradation of 130 mm guns had already been placed with an Israeli consortium ‘Soltem’.

“The Israeli consortium has already delivered six gun barrels out of the initial lot of 120 and rest of the 114 barrels are expected to be delivered to the Gun and Shell factory, Jabalpur, once the testing of the upgraded version is carried out to the satisfaction of the Artillery Regiment,” a source said.

The upgradation of the 130 mm guns to the 155 mm level will enhance the firepower of the guns from the present 27 km to 37 km, almost at par with the Bofors guns which won us the battle in Kargil a couple of years ago.

The Artillery Regiment, which is the second largest arm of the Army constituting almost one-sixth of its total strength, is now engaged in realignment of its strategy and training programmes to face the challenges posed by a battlefield scenario emerging due to nuclearisation of our neighbourhood.

“We are studying various aspects of the nuclear scenario and honing our skills for it...We know the requirements and are devising a strategy,” Lt-Gen Avtar Singh told the visiting newspersons at the School of Artillery here.

“The nuclearisation of our neighbourhood and increased role of information technology in management and conduct of future wars have given rise to new challenges. There is a need to train our human resource in a manner so that it is adequately equipped and prepared to discharge its duties optimally in any future ‘high tech’ conflict,” he said.

On the possible induction of ‘Pinaka’, multi-barrel rocket launchers, Lt-Gen Avtar Singh maintained that “Pinaka is in the advanced stage of development and further improvements are being carried out.”

The induction of the indigenously developed Pinaka was test-fired during the Kargil war, but failed to meet the specifications.

Refusing to buy the idea that resource-crunch has severely affected the weapons buildup programme of the Artillery, Lt-Gen Avtar Singh asserted that “the Indian Army has adequate equipment, in terms of numbers and technology.”

However, he pointed out that the Artillery Regiment would continue to play a major role in winning future battles along with the other arms of the Indian Army.

“In future conflicts the Artillery would like to win battles deep within a enemy territory so that a conflict war is not required and if it does take place victory is ensured with minimum losses,” he said.


MEA puts IDSA on leash
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 27
The Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA), considered the premier strategic think-tank of the country, has been put on a leash by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) from publicly commenting on various issues, specifically those dealing with the Taliban in Afghanistan and the US campaign against various terrorist groups operating around the world.

The IDSA, whose researchers are considered to be part of the government circles and those who reflect the official policy, has been asked by the MEA to restrain its faculty from not only interacting with the media in official capacity, but also contributing their views in various newspapers and journals on the present security scenario, specifically the Indian angle.

The restraint came earlier this month as a result of which all researchers cannot officially represent the institute while appearing in media columns or on the television channels. A set of instructions, signed by the new Director of the IDSA, Mr S. Santhanam, has also been put up on notice board of the institute.

The new set of rules was apparently first passed by the IDSA Council, which consists of senior retired bureaucrats, and then cleared by the Director to be put up officially.

The new set of rules clearly say that any researcher or faculty member of the IDSA writing for a newspaper or a journal should not give his name on the article. If the name is appearing then there should be no mention of the IDSA anywhere.

But in circumstances where both the name of the faculty member and that of the IDSA accompanies the write up, a line should be added as a footnote that the views expressed were the personal views of the writer and not that of the institute. Reports said this has been done not only to restrain the faculty members, but to also ensure that a wrong government policy is not reflected by way of the IDSA. Recently, the government faced embarrassing situations when some faculty members of the IDSA voiced certain views contrary to the official policy.

This happened particularly after the September 11 terrorist bombings in New York and Washington. A major controversy was raked up when a faculty member, while appearing on a TV channel, suggested that in the aftermath of the bombings, India should seize the opportunity to bomb terrorist training camps being operated by Pakistan in occupied Kashmir (PoK).

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