M A I N   N E W S

Army flexes its firepower
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Mahajan (Rajasthan), March 1
The Army today showcased an array of new weaponry and skills at conducting joint operations with the Air Force during Exercise Divya Astra at its field firing ranges here today.

Depicting a mock battle scenario, the Army and the Air Force joined hands to neutralise and capture an enemy stronghold through a mechanised assault supported by heavy weapons and ground attack aircraft.

The use of heavy weapons such as the GRAD multi-barrel rocket launchers which have devastating effect, 155 mm Bofors howitzers, newly acquired T-90 battle tanks, BMP armoured personnel carriers along with infantry weapons such as the recently acquired anti-material rifles, automatic grenade launchers and sniper rifles was displayed. The IAF used its MiG-21 and MiG-23 aircraft as well as the Mi-35 helicopter gunship.

Among those who witnessed the display were the Army chief, Gen N.C. Vij, GOC-in-C, Western Command, Lieut-Gen J.J. Singh, and a host of senior Army and Air Force officers.

After a combat team made contact with the enemy, the commander called in fire support to neutralise enemy defence, artillery guns and rocket launchers The tanks opened up, saturating the enemy area with devastating fire.

Finding enemy defences strong, the commander called up air support in which a formation of four MiG-21 pounded the target with rockets. This was followed by a wave of four MiG-23s sweeping over the target, dropping conventional “iron” bombs. The final air assault came from the low flying Mi-35 gunships who unleashed their rocket power. All this while T-90s and BMPs continued to engage the enemy with their guns and missiles.

With the enemy defences was put out of action, a mechanised column of tanks and infantry combat vehicles, with their guns blazing on the move, launched the final assault to capture and physically occupy enemy territory.

The army also displayed its latest surveillance and combat equipment. Among them was the long range recce and observation system for day and night observation. Consisting of a night camera, video surveillance system and a laser ranger, it can track targets up to 18 km. The ELM 2140 Battlefield Surveillance rardar, with a range of up to 40 km and the portable hand held thermal Imager which can detect targets up to 6 km were also shown. All these devises are of Israeli origin. Other recently acquired equipment, including automatic grenade launchers, sniper rifles, anti material rifles, were also displayed.

Sappers also demonstrated their ability to secure bridgeheads and construct bridges to spearhead assaults. A 60-meter wide canal was spanned within half an hour using truck mounted pontoon bridges capable of carrying tanks.


Big increase in infantry firepower: General Vij
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

N.C. VijMahajan (Rajasthan), March 1
While declining to comment on the prospect of a war with neighbouring countries, the Chief of the Army Staff, Gen N.C. Vij, today said the ongoing modernisation programmes had resulted in a phenomenal increase in the firepower and observation of the Indian infantry.

“I do not want to comment on this issue amidst the ongoing peace talks, though theoretically, there is always a space for war between any two countries,” he said while interacting with media persons during Exercise Divya Astra, a firepower demonstration organised at the field firing ranges here.

Pointing out that the theory consequently leaves scope for ongoing modernisation, he said the induction of new equipment had led to a 50-fold increase in the Army’s surveillance and neutralisation capability over the past two years.

The modernisation as projected today, he said was related to conventional warfare which required the use of maximum possible force, rather than counter insurgency. Counter-insurgency operations, on the other hand, required the use of minimum possible force, though force multipliers such as electronic equipment and air mobility assets yield good results in such operations, he added.

The chief said the Army was also in the process of procuring self propelled artillery guns which would be able to keep pace with advancing armoured columns during an offensive and enhance the capability to neutralise enemy defences.

He said recent exercises had revealed that the Army now possessed very good observation capabilities as well as the ability to neutralise an adversary in as little time as possible through the conduct of ground offensive in conjugation with air power.

On the induction of the laser-guided Krasnopol artillery shell, which had generated controversy in certain circles, he said its accuracy at high altitude was being established, though it had been done for low and medium altitudes. He also ruled out any problems with the night fighting equipment of the newly inducted T-90 battle tanks.

On the ongoing works to fence the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, General Vij said out of a total stretch of 590 km, about 320 km had been fenced so far. By summer the fence would pose a very “big problem” for those on the other side, he remarked,

The use of night vision devices for surveillance along the border, he added, was having remarkable effect.

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