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Evolution of Indian Artillery

Updated: Aug 15, 2020


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The foundation of the Indian Armed forces was laid by the British Royal Armed forces a hundred and fifty years back. Since then we have come a long way. We boast of possessing one of the most efficient military worldwide. After colonial independence the forces were mainly categorised into the Indian Army, Navy and the Air Force. India included some brilliant artillery in its services, from missiles, warships, submarines to fighter jets. Let’s take a look at some of the greatest feats that the Indian Armed Forces has achieved over the years in this aspect.


Most of the Army equipment is imported, but efforts for manufacturing indigenous equipment like the Arjun tank have been undertaken. The ‘Defence Research and Development Organisation’ (DRDO) has developed a range of weapons for the Indian Army including small arms, artillery and radars.

The initial indigenous development of artillery guns in India started in the 1970s with the Artillery Gun Development Team introducing the 105mm artillery gun and the Light Field gun into the Indian Army. The ‘Dhanush’ project was started to replace the older 105 mm Indian Field Gun, 105 mm Light Field Gun and the Russian 122 mm guns with a modern 155mm artillery gun. As of 2018, the Indian Army is equipped with 114 Dhanush guns.

DRDO manufactured ‘Rajendra’- a passive electronically scanned array radar. It is a multifunction radar, capable of surveillance, tracking and engaging low-radar targets. It is a ground surveillance radar which is mainly used to track enemy's installations.

‘Vidhwansak’ is an Indian multi-calibre anti-materiel rifle which can be used in the anti-materiel role for destroying enemy bunkers, lightly armoured vehicles, radar systems, communication equipment, parked aircraft, fuel storage facilities, etc. It is a manually operated, rotating bolt-action rifle. The rifle has an effective range of 1,800 m while shots can be achieved even up to 2,000 m.

The Arjun Tank features a 120 mm main rifled gun with several indigenously developed machine guns. It is a third-generation main battle tank. Main battle tanks are organized into armoured units which involve the support of infantry. Due to their powerful engines, better suspension systems and lighter weight compositions, they have replaced all other types of armoured fighting vehicles in the Army.


The names of all in service ships and naval bases of the Indian Navy are prefixed with the letters INS (Indian Naval Ship/Station). On the other hand, the sail boats are prefixed with INSV (Indian Naval Sailing Vessel). The fleet of the Indian Navy is a mixture of domestic built and foreign vessels, including aircraft carriers, landing ship tanks, destroyers, frigates, corvettes, large offshore patrol vessels, survey ships, research and training vessels.

The INS Viraat was a Centaur-class aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy. INS Viraat holds the Guinness record for being the longest serving warship in the world. It had been the flagship of the Indian Navy since her inception. She was first commissioned into the British Royal Navy as the HMS Hermes in 1959. It was commissioned into the Indian Navy on 12 May 1987, serving for almost 30 years.

INS Vikrant, also known as Indigenous Aircraft Carrier 1 is an aircraft carrier. It was the first aircraft carrier to be built in India.

India also possesses a single Akula class nuclear-powered attack submarine named INS Chakra. She is under lease to India for a period of ten years. Three hundred Indian Navy personnel were trained in Russia for the operation of these submarines.

INS Arihant was launched on 26 July 2009 in Visakhapatnam, and was secretly commissioned into active service in August 2016. Arihant is both the first boat of the Arihant-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines and the first nuclear-powered submarine to be built in India.


The Indian Air Force possesses aircraft and equipment of Russian, British, French, Israeli, US and Indian origins.

The BrahMos is a medium-range supersonic cruise missile that can be launched from submarine, ships, aircraft, or land. It is the fastest supersonic cruise missile in the world, which was included in Indian Air Force in November 2006. BrahMos-II is a hypersonic cruise missile estimated to have a range of 290 km. Like the BrahMos, its range has also been limited to 290 km. However, it will have double the speed of the current BrahMos missile, being the fastest hypersonic missile in the world. BrahMos-NG (Next Generation) is a mini version based on the existing BrahMos.

The Agni missile is a group of medium to intercontinental range ballistic missiles developed by India, named after one of the five elements of nature. Agni missiles are long-range nuclear weapons.

Prithvi missile is a tactical surface-to-surface short-range ballistic missile with the tactical 150 km-range, developed by the DRDO. It will be replaced by the Prahaar missile, which is more capable and has more accuracy. It is a cost-effective, quick-reaction, all-weather, all-terrain and a highly accurate battlefield support tactical weapon system.

HAL HPT-32 Deepak is IAF's basic flight training aircraft for cadets. The HAL Dhruv serves primarily as a light utility helicopter in the IAF. HAL Chetak is a light utility helicopter and is used primarily for training, rescue and light transport roles in the IAF. HAL Cheetah is a light utility helicopter used for high altitude operations.

HAL Tejas is an Indian single-engine, fourth-generation, multirole light fighter designed for the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy. It came from the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme to replace India's ageing MiG-21 fighters which were the first supersonic fighter jet to enter service with the IAF.

Followed by HAL Tejas, HAL HF-24 Marut was the 1st design fighter jet by Hindustan Aircraft Limited being the first Indian-developed jet aircraft, and the first Asian jet fighter to go beyond the test phase and into successful production and active service It was used in combat in a ground attack role as it had excellent low-level flying characteristics. The following Marut series is recently updated till Marut MK 2.

SEPECAT Jaguar is currently only used by India. It remains an important element of the Indian military along with the Mirage 2000. Dassault Mirage 2000 was purchased by India to combat Pakistan’s purchase of US based F-16. MiG-21s and MiG-23s were no match for the F-16 in any aspect. In October 1982, the country placed an order for 36 single-seat Mirage 2000Hs and 4 twin-seat Mirage 2000THs as war, maintenance and attrition reserve. Indian Air Force (IAF) became the first foreign user and Mirage-2000 was renamed as the "Vajra".

Sukhoi Su-30MKI is a twinjet multirole air superiority fighter developed by Russia's Sukhoi and built under licence by India's HAL. A variant of the Sukhoi Su-30 is a heavy, all-weather, long-range fighter. The IAF has nearly 260 Su-30MKIs in inventory till early 2020.

In February 2011, French Rafale flew demonstrations in India, including air-to-air combat against Su-30MKIs. It was proposed that 18 Rafales would be supplied to the IAF by 2015 in fly-away condition, while the remaining 108 would be manufactured by HAL in India under transfer of technology agreements. In March 2019, Indian government officials asked for Rafales to replace ageing MiG-21s and to counter Pakistan's newer F-16s. Finally, delivery of 36 Rafales started on 27 July 2020 with the first 5 Rafales being delivered to the Indian Air force by France.




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