Newly-inducted K9 Vajra artillery guns used for tactical manoeuvre at Sindhu Sudarshan

Sushant Kulkarni
These manoeuvres are part of multiple integrated battle groups. (Express)

One of the highlights of the ongoing Sindhu Sudarshan exercise of the Southern Command — headquartered in Pune — is the deployment of an artillery regiment which was the first to receive the newly-inducted K9 Vajra artillery guns. The regiment with 18 of these artillery guns was seen in action as part of an enacted offensive against the enemy forces in Thar desert on Saturday.

The Sudarshan Chakra Corps of the Southern Command is conducting one of the largest military exercises in Thar desert to assess the capabilities to strike across the border, deep in enemy territory, in the Western theatre. The exercise is named Sindhu Sudarshan, signifying the target of reaching Sindhu river.

As many as 40,000 troops, 700 armoured vehicles and 300 artillery guns of the Sudarshan Chakra Corps, with the support of Air Force elements, are conducting the exercise. The newly-inducted armed helicopter Rudra and 155-mm-barrel K9 Vajra artillery guns are part of the action.

Inducted into the Army in 2018 at a ceremony held at the Field Ranges of the Regiment of Artillery at Deolali, the artillery gun has a range of 40 km and can fire 15 shells in three minutes. The Army is slated to get 100 of these self-propelled artillery guns in 2019 and 2020 at a cost of Rs 4,366 crore. The first 10 guns have been assembled in India and the next 90 are being largely manufactured and assembled in India.

On Saturday, as part of the exercise, the artillery regiment comprising 18 guns performed the tactical manoeuvre of shifting their positions after opening fire on the enemy units, to avoid counter-fire from the adversary.

These manoeuvres are part of multiple integrated battle groups which are simulating strikes at various locations along the imaginary international border spanning about 100 km. During the exercise, the individual battle groups first initiate an attack using rockets and artillery guns, like K9 Vajra. Later, the armoured elements cross over the demarcated international borders and encircle the enemy units. Subsequently, the infantry formations capture the adversary points.