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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

The Modi Years – Modernising The Armed Forces (Part 2)

In the entire history of the nation of the Bharat, there have been consistent adversaries and enemies aiming to harm the vibrant tradition, culture and idea of Bharat. Still after years of invasion, prosecution, killings and destruction, the warriors of the nation fought bravely till their last breath to protect the motherland and its timeless culture.

There was hardly any time when we were not surrounded by malevolent and vindictive forces, despite such hard challenges the idea of nation survived in the core. This time of modern world is no different. We are surrounded by two adversaries, one of them made on basis of the idea of destroying us.

Since independence, Bharat’s first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru did not give much attention to enhancing the capabilities of our armed forces even though we had enemy at our doorstep. Nehru’s offhand and sluggish attitude towards reconstructing army was partly due to his dof analysis that Bharat as a nation had no adversaries and hence spending on enhancing defence of the nation was unnecessary and waste of resources and partly because he was fearful that military would get more powerful and would execute a Pakistan like military coup in Bharat causing him to lose his supreme power. He was, of course, completely off the mark in both of his assumptions and that caused serious trouble for the nation. Lack of any punctilious and scrupulous action towards defence modernisation lead the country to a defeat in the 1962 Sino-Bharatiya War.

Narendra Modi is, however, different in this context. He understands the threats posed to our nation by rancorous and contiguous adversaries. He not only acknowledges but also actively works for a strong and mighty military force for protecting the national interests of the nation. Modi knows the impact and implications of having a strong military in the international proceedings and foreign policy framing. No country can become a world power without strong military power. Projecting yourself as a global leader requires you to have muscle power for being able to lead. Modi understands the significance of having a strong military force in both hard and soft power dealings.

Here we will evaluate how this government has performed in strengthening and modernising the Bharatiya Army.

One Rank One Pension

One Rank One Pension was a long pending demand of the armed forces personnels. Deciding on the demand was not rocket science and previous governments could have comfortably done it, but they, due to their lukewarm feeble attitude, never bothered to. This government delivered on its promise of implementing one rank one pension (OROP) within few months of coming into power.

Past government of Indira Gandhi led INC did great injustice to the brave hearts of armed forces by deciding to decrease the armed forces pension by 20-40 percentage, 2 years after important win of 1971 war, and to increase civilian pension with that fund. Armed forces were again made to felt unease during Rajiv Gandhi regime when the third central pay commission implemented Rank Pay, which decreased the pay of officers of armed forces relative basic pay scale of similar to that of civilians and police.

This government, however made no such mistakes and took implementation of OROP as a high substance issue. This ensured justice to long pending demands of the security personnel and made same pay scale for same rank officers a reality.

S-400 Triumph

Russia is the largest source for Bharat to maintain its defence might. In October last year, PM Modi and President Putin signed $5.3 Billion worth of deals. This includes completing the final phase of the S-400 Triumph Air Defence Shields. Bharat has decided to purchase 5 regiments of this. The system can engage all types of aerial targets including aircraft, UAVs, and ballistic and cruise missiles within the range of 400 km, at an altitude of up to 30 km. The system can simultaneously engage 36 targets.

S-400 has 4 new types of missiles in addition to the missiles of the previous model of S-300. The range of these missiles is from 120 kilometres to 400 kilometres. They can hit high speed target such as fighter jets with a high hit probability. The radar can detect and track aircraft, rotorcraft, cruise missiles, guided missiles, drones and ballistic rockets within the distance of 600 km. It can simultaneously track up to 300 targets. The command and control centre of the S-400 system recognises the threats and also prioritises them.

The systems would be delivered by 2020. Integration of modern advanced air defence system in the armed forces is a remarkable step by the government. S-400 procurement shows the government stand firm in its pledge to improve national security.

Apache and Chinook Helicopters

Bharatiya government did a splendid job in making deals with American aerospace giant Boeing. Boeing is one of world’s leading aircrafts and aerospace manufacturer. The Bharatiya government had placed an order for 22 AH- 64 E Apache twin turbo-shaft attack helicopters as a part of a $1.4 billion deal that was signed in September 2015.

Apache procurement can prove to be nation’s most vital helicopter deal as Apache is an attack helicopter which will help armed forces in neutralising targets on the ground. “We are on plan to deliver the first of 22 Apache starting July. This will give significant combat capabilities (to the air force),” Livemint quoted David Koopersmith, VP & GM, Vertical Lift, Boeing, Defence, Space and Security.

A joint venture between Tata and Boeing Co, Tata Boeing Aerospace Limited, is building the complete fuselage of the Apache helicopters at a company facility in Hyderabad. Tata Boeing Aerospace Limited produces about eight Apache fuselage, per month, which are shipped across the world. Bharat is getting most advanced version of Apache and helicopters are expected to be supplied to Air Force in this year.

In addition to this, Bharat has also placed an order for 15 CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters from Boeing. The order is expected to be around $1.6 billion and the first batch of four Chinook helicopters arrived by sea in Bharat in February this year. The Chinook is a heavy lift helicopter and will bolster air force’s capabilities. Chinook has incredible capacity of lifting and ferrying heavy cargo like road construction equipments in the difficult terrains, this will provide significant help in bolstering nation’s border infrastructure.

Artillery Guns

Bharatiya Army in past 5 years has significantly enhanced it’s firepower capabilities by inducting scores of game changing artillery guns. Artillery guns are vital weapons capable of hitting hard in the enemy’s domain. They are swift in movement and destructive in power. “Artillery is the weapon of choice when armies want to deploy a great amount of firepower on the enemy, but without escalating the battle to missiles deployment. Artillery also gives the stand-off advantage to forces,” Economic Times quoted Chatterji.

Despite being a battle winning major weapon, artillery modernisation was languorous in the past regimes. “Bharatiya artillery for long, lacked equipment with increased calibre and range thus reducing its ability to shape the battlefield and cause large scale destruction.”, cites a ORF online piece.

The Bofors scandal was the basic reason behind restricting modernisation of the artillery. Other than the Bofors inducted in 1984, Army possessed the old 130 mm guns inducted in the 1960’s and 70’s and the 105 mm, domestically manufactured field guns of the 1980’s. The 130 mm one lacked the ability to fire in mountains and the 105 mm one lacked range.

Finally after a long no action gap of 30 years, the first artillery guns were inducted due this government’s prudent actions. The guns being inducted are K9 Vajra (a Bharatiya variant of South Korean K9 thunder), American M777 howitzers, Dhanush artillery guns (Bharatiya version of Bofors gun), Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) and Mountain Gun System.

K9 vajra and M777 howitzer, both are of 155 mm, with the Vajra being a tracked self-propelled gun and the M777 a light weight howitzer which can be carried underslung by a helicopter. Both guns can fire up to a range of 30 kms. The quantity being inducted are 100 of the Vajra and 145 of the M777. The Vajra is 52 calibre, while the M777 is 39.

Simultaneously trials are on for Dhanush artillery gun’s Bharatiya version, upgraded on the basis of transfer of technology. In case of success of trials, 300 155 mm/45 caliber Dhanush will be ordered.

In addition, the Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) which is another 155 mm/ 52 Calibre gun system being developed jointly by the DRDO in collaboration with the private sector. The gun during its earlier trials had set a world record of 48.074 Kms for a gun of its calibre. Which was recently surpassed by new American system. 40 orders of ATAGS is expected.

Bullet proof jackets, AK-203 rifles and MR-SAMs

Bharat has decided to procure advanced lethal Medium Range Surface to Air missiles for the protection of Bharatiya airspace. Absence of genuine MR-SAM can prove to be catastrophic for any nation in its quest for air defence from ground. Government went ahead to buy a MR-SAM system for the Army. In this deal, there will be around 40 firing units and 200 missiles for the army. The MR-SAM, a land-based version of the (LR-SAM) of the navy, will have a strike range of up to 70 km thus drastically enhancing country’s striking capabilities.

The government, displaying it’s strong intent towards enhancing and modernising Army, inked a $100-million contract with an Bharatiya firm this year for supplying 1.86 lakh bulletproof jackets to the army, a key battlefield requirement that should have been fulfilled years ago.

After years of desire for procurement of new rifles to replace older and failing INSAS, the Bharatiya Army will get advanced AK-203 assault rifles. The government inked contract with Russia to establish domestic manufacturing plant of Russian made Kalashnikov AK-203 assault rifle in Amethi, which is superior version of famous AK-47 rifles and can hold up to 30 bullets in it’s magazine. 7,50,000 new AK-203s will be built in Amethi factory.

The gun has an effective range of 400 metre and is considered 100% accurate. It will be lighter and shorter than an INSAS rifle. It can host an under barrel grenade launcher or a bayonet and all versions can be equipped with quick-detachable tactical sound suppressors. The 7.62 mm ammunition in the gun is NATO grade and therefore more powerful. The rifle, which can fire 600 bullets in one minute, means 10 bullets in a second, can be used in automatic and semi-automatic mode. The most important quality of AK-series rifles is they never get jammed. The Kalashnikovs can work under extreme climatic conditions and are effective even in sand, soil and water.

This government under the leadership of Narendra Modi has bought stellar and pedantic reforms and modernisation in the armed forces. Major dealings were made for enhancing nation’s combat capabilities. This government never carried out phoney debilitated titivating reforms, rather did a prudent and laborious job in increasing force’s lethality and defence capacity. From inducting air defence system, attack helicopters, fulfilling pay scale demand, inducting artillery guns to bringing manufacturing of assault rifles into the heart of Bharat, the government did splendid job and checked all the boxes.

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Yogendra Thakur
Yogendra Thakur
A student and two time state topper in Astrophysics and Art of Lecturing. Primary focus areas are Indology and Economics.


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