Indian Army to deploy fleet of hovercrafts along Pakistan border

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Major preparedness, 464 new T-90 tanks allocated for Army, Dhanush howitzer and AK-203 assault rifle inducted

NEW DELHI:  Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat has said that Army will deploy a fleet of hovercrafts at Rann of Kutch for guarding the international border with Pakistan. He said that the “training” and “operation” of the hovercrafts would be done by the Army in coordination with the Coast Guard which have experience in operating it.

“They are being based on the western coast in the Rann of Kutch,” said Rawat when asked about the deployment of hovercrafts. The Army Chief was talking to ANI here after inducting the Coast Guard ship “Veera” into the maritime force took after the security of the eastern coast.

The India Coast Guard and the Army were cleared to buy around 12 hovercrafts for surveillance in marshy and marine areas in the Gujarat border. “The Indian Coast Guard has been carrying out its task in a very professional manner and they have been continuously upgrading their effort. Today I am very happy that Indian coast guard ship Veera has been commissioned and it will add to the coast guard strength and help them monitor the coastline of the country more effectively,” said General Rawat.

T-90 tanks

 In a major boost for the Indian Army, the Centre has cleared the acquisition of 464 T-90 main battle tanks to be deployed on the borders with Pakistan.”In a recent meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security, the acquisition of the 464 T-90 tanks was approved. The cost of the project is expected to be worth over Rs 13,000 crore,” government sources said.

The contract will also include a Make-in-India element for integration at the Heavy Vehicles Factory in Avadi near Chennai.

The new acquisition will increase the new T-90 regiments by 10 more units and would be equipped with thermal imaging night sights to allow the tank commander to strike enemy locations during night battles.

The new inductions will also strengthen the Army’s fire-power along the land border stretch with Pakistan — from Jammu in the north till the western flank in Gujarat. India has already inducted 18 regiments of T-90 tanks which are deployed in Rajasthan and Punjab on the Pakistan front.

However, the Indian Army’s 4000- strong tank fleet has been battling with night blindness in the past and these new tanks would help in doing away with that, sources said.

In addition, it was found that key systems like the missile-firing mechanism and thermal sights had deteriorated due to prolonged exposure to heat and dust. The T-90 has emerged as the main battle tank of the Indian Army and is replacing the older variants of T-72 and T-55 tanks in the force.

Dhanush howitzer

In a major boost to India’s firepower, country’s first indigenously designed and developed Dhanush artillery gun was inducted in the Indian Army during a ceremony held at Ordnance Factory here on Monday.

Dhanush 155mm/45 calibre towed gun system can be deployed in all types of terrains. The Dhanush gun system is based on the designs of the Bofors howitzer which was inducted in the Army in the 1980s and would be the third type of artillery gun to be inducted into the force after the K-9 Vajra and the M-777 ultra-light howitzers.

The Army had placed an order for more than 110 of these guns with the Ordnance Factory. The howitzer will help the force to modernise its artillery which had been awaiting induction for over three decades till sometime ago.

The gun is equipped with an inertial navigation-based sighting system, auto-laying facility, onboard ballistic computation and an advanced day and night direct firing system. The self-propulsion unit allows the gun to negotiate and deploy itself in mountainous terrains with ease.

Dhanush’s performance has been evaluated under arduous conditions in several phases.

The weapon is the product of joint efforts by the Ordnance Factory Board and the Indian Army with contributions from DRDO, DGQA, DPSUs such as BEL, PSUs such as SAIL and several private enterprises.

AK-203 assault rifle

The Indian Army is planning to use a modified version of the AK-203 assault rifle in carbine role for its troops deployed during counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir.

The AK-203 assault rifle would be manufactured at Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi facility in a joint venture between the Ordnance Factory Board and Russia. The assault rife would be provided to troops for carrying out anti-terrorist operations. A separate tender is being floated to buy 93,000 carbines under fast track procedure.

“We want to try out the AK-203 in the carbine role. We can remove the rifle’s butt completely to reduce its size and then it can be hidden easily under clothes to be used in close quarter combat operations against terrorists,” top Army sources told ANI.

The carbines are also useful in close quarter combat and can be highly effective during operations like room interventions. Efforts are under process to acquire 93,000 carbines and the Defence Ministry has formed an oversight committee to look into the case.”

A senior Lieutenant General-rank officer has been appointed as the member of the committee including other members from the Defence Ministry and the DRDO.

The Defence Ministry is expected to take a call once the oversight committee submits its report. The Central government has already finalised contracts for buying two types of modern assault rifles for the Army.

The government is also thinking to meet the requirement of carbines through foreign vendors initially and then through ‘Make in India’ programme under which more than three lakh carbines would be manufactured at an Indian facility. (ANI)