Tracked SPH and Mounted Gun Systems

-Kunal Varshney

In the last part we discussed about indigenously build towed howitzers, if you still have not gone through it, do give it a read here – https://alphadefense.in/a-closer-look-at-desi-howitzers/ . In this part we will discuss in detail about indigenous tracked self-propelled guns and mounted gun system.  Unlike towed artillery which has to be towed by a truck, these systems travel under their own power hence considerably improving the response time and providing better shoot and scoot capability. Another advantage of SPH is that it can move along a strike armored formation to provide direct or indirect fire support.  These systems will form an important part of Indian doctrine of Cold Start. Here are systems developed by India.

155/52mm OFB Mounted Gun System:  The 155/52mm towed artillery gun of OFB was mounted on BEML – Tatra 8 x 8 truck to create a mounted gun system. It weights around 30 tons and has an elevation of -3 degrees to 70 degrees and traverse 360 degrees. The gun can fire  3 rounds in 15 seconds in burst mode, 15 rounds in 3 minutes in intense mode, and 60 rounds per hour in sustained mode. The maximum firing range is around 42 km with vehicle carrying  18 rounds and 18 bi-modular charges onboard.  The vehicle is powered by 300 kW engine providing 10 kW/ton of thrust with vehicle achieving speed of 80km/h on-road and 30/km/h off-road. The cruising range without refueling is around 1000km and it can be deployed automatically within 1 minute and in all types of terrain. The gun utilizes 3 round magazine with a hydraulic arm and autoloader. It features a digital fire control system which allow automatic target laying capability and ballistic computation using INS based sighting system with GPS aid, muzzle velocity radar, etc. The system has completed internal trials by OFB and is currently being tested by the Indian Army.

155/39mm Marg-S Mounted Gun System:  The project came into existence after the request of CDS Bipin Rawat(then Army Chief) to  Kalyani Strategic Systems Limited to create a 155mm mounted gun system at Defence Expo 2018. The Marg-S ULH i.e. the steel variant of the ultra-light howitzer developed by KSSL was mounted on BEML-Tatra 4 x 4 truck which they call, ‘go anywhere vehicle’, which can climb a slope upto 40 degrees. It weights around 18 tons and has an elevation of -3 degrees to 72 degrees and traverse 25 degrees to the left and 25 degrees to the right. The gun can fire  3 rounds in 30 seconds in burst mode, 12 rounds in 3 minutes in intense mode, and 1.25 rounds per minute for 30 min in sustained mode. The maximum firing range is around 27-30 km with vehicle carrying 18 rounds and 18 bi-modular charges onboard. It features a digital fire control system which allow automatic target laying capability and ballistic computation using INS based sighting system with GPS aid, muzzle velocity radar, etc. It can be deployed automatically within 1 minute and offer a good shoot and scoot capability. The system is currently under trial with the Indian Army.

105/37mm Garuda V2: The system is developed indigenously by KSSL by mounting 105/37mm gun on a  4 x 4 go anywhere vehicle(too developed by KSSL). The company claims that it can be fitted on any in-service light vehicle. It can achieve a speed of 100-120 km/h on-road and 70km/h off-road. The gun alone weights around 900kgs, which is quite a feat in itself as similar gun weights around 3 tons, and feature state of art hybrid soft recoil technology. It has an elevation of -5 degrees to 72 degrees and traverse 360 degrees. The gun can fire  3 rounds in 30 seconds in burst mode, 6 rounds per minute for upto 10 minutes in intense mode, and 75 rounds per hour in sustained mode. The maximum firing range is around 27 km while ammunition is carried on a separate vehicle. It features a digital fire control system which allow automatic target laying capability and ballistic computation using INS based sighting system with GPS aid etc. It can be deployed automatically within 1 minute. The system is currently under trial with the Indian Army and has been offered to the Saudi Arabian Army.

155/52mm TATA Mounted Gun System: Not a 100% indigenously developed system but a system developed by TATA SED (now TATA Aerospace & Defence) in partnership with DENEL Land Systems. The system has around 55% indigenous content. Apart from the vehicle on which it is mounted,  the telecommunication system, ballistic computer, hydraulic system, gun management computer, all electrical system, etc are developed by TATA A&D, while gun barrel, muzzle brake, breech mechanism, autoloader, muzzle velocity radar, sighting system, etc. are provided by DENEL. It weights around 28 tons and has an elevation of -3 degrees to 75 degrees and traverse 360 degrees. The gun can fire 6 rounds per minute in intense mode and 60 rounds per hour in sustained mode. The maximum firing range is around 42.5 km with vehicle carrying  27 rounds and 26 bi-modular charges onboard.  The vehicle is powered by a 265 kW diesel engine, with speed of 85km/h on-road and 30/km/h off-road. The operational range without refueling is around 600km, and it can be deployed automatically within 1 minute. Since DENEL was blacklisted due to corruption charges, this project went nowhere, but now DENEL has been removed from the blacklist, so it is to be seen if this project is revived or not. 

105/37mm OFB mounted gun system: OFB created a lightweight mounted gun system by mounting its 105mm Indian Field Gun on a 6 x 6 truck. It weights less than 10 tons and has an elevation of -5 degrees to 70 degrees and traverse 360 degrees. The gun can fire 6 rounds per minute in intense mode and 60 rounds per hour in sustained mode with range of 19 km. It features a fire control system with GPS aid and also a muzzle reference system. It went through demonstration cum trial at Artillery School, Deolali, but the army was not interested in it.

105/37mm OFB Tracked SPH: OFB, Medak developed a tracked self-propelled howitzer by combining 105mm Indian Field Gun with BMP chassis. It weights around 16 tons and has an elevation of -5 degrees to 70 degrees and traverse 360 degrees. The gun can fire 6 rounds per minute in intense mode and 60 rounds per hour in sustained mode. The maximum firing range is around 19 km with vehicle carrying  42 rounds onboard.  The vehicle is fully tracked with speed of 65km/h and is also air transportable. It can be deployed automatically within 1 minute. It features a fire control system with GPS aid and also a muzzle reference system, and turret has level III armor protection. This system too found no interest from the Indian Army.

155/52mm Bhim SPH: The system was developed by DRDO with support from DENEL, South Africa. T6 turret by DENEL was incorporated with Arjun MBT chassis. It weights around 56 tons and has an elevation of -5 degrees to 75 degrees and traverse 360 degrees. The gun can fire  3 rounds in 20 seconds in burst mode, 8 rounds per minute for 3 minutes in intense mode, and 2 rounds per minute for 1 hour in sustained mode. The maximum firing range is around 42 km with vehicle carrying  50 rounds (40 in autoloader) onboard and support fully-automatic ammunition loading and replenishment even while firing. The secondary armament is 7.62mm machine gun. The vehicle is powered by 1030 kW engine, with speed of 70km/h on-road and 45/km/h cross country, and can clear a slope upto 35 degrees. It can be deployed automatically within 1 minute. It features a fire control system with fully automated laying and navigation system, muzzle velocity radar, etc. Self-protection measures include armor protection upto 14.5mm, 81mm smoke grenade launcher for smokescreen, and an escape hatch for the crew. The system was cleared for production but due to blacklisting of DENEL, it was put on indefinite hold.  As of 2016, DRDO was trying to revive the project with indigenous turret, but nothing has moved forward since then.

130mm Catapult SPH MK-I/II:  The CVRDE mounted the Russian  M46 guns provided to them by the Indian Army on Vijayanta tank chassis to create 130mm Catapult MK-I SPH.  The system got inducted in the Indian Army and the army was reportedly satisfied with its performance, which prompted them to request a more mobile and modern system on Arjun chassis. The CVRDE than mounted M46 on the Arjun chassis creating  Catapult MK-II, which was considered better than Catapult MK-I in terms of both mobility and shock absorption while firing charged rounds. Catapult MK-II weights around 54 tons and has an elevation of -2 degrees to 45 degrees and traverse 14 degrees to left to 14 degrees to right. The gun can fire  8 rounds in 1 minute in intense mode and 5 rounds per minute in sustained mode. The maximum firing range is around 27.4 km with vehicle carrying  35 rounds and 35 bi-modular charges on board as compared to 30 in MK-1. The secondary armament is 7.62mm machine gun.  The vehicle is powered by 1030 kW engine with speed of 70km/h on-road and 40/km/h off-road and can clear a slope upto 35 degrees, with range of 450km. It can be deployed automatically within 1 minute. It features a GPS display for commander and driver, an integrated fire detection and suppression system, and protection upto STANAG Level II. The army had 40 Catapult MK-I which were replaced by 40 Catapult Mk-II in 2016.

By Alpha Defense

Alpha Defense initially a solo venture but now a defense group by people from various demographics of India covering defense news and updates. We believe in unbiased analysis of every subject in hand. Our mission is to provide simplfiied defense information to the public.

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