‘Topchi’ shows delivery, on time every time!
Against the backdrop of the picturesque Bahula and Cone Hills in Devlali last week, rapt audiences watched ‘Topchi’ at the cantonment’s Field Foring Ranges, an annual demonstration that showcases the might of artillery weapons and equipment.
Acquired over six decades ago, these ranges cover an expanse of 100 square kilometers, with a grandstand which offers a panoramic view. This is what they saw.
Once the audience is acquainted with the landmarks at target end (where the rounds fall), the demo started with firing of a 120mm mortar brought on mule-back, unloaded, assembled and made ready to fire in 2 minutes flat! These mortars can also be towed by a jeep, underslung by a helicopter or even carried on manpack basis for short distances. At the event, a Chhetah helicopter achieved a heli-landing of the mortar.
Next came the field guns, which came into service in the early 70s when the 105 mm Indian Field Gun(IFG) was indigenously developed. A few years later, its lighter version was developed, firing the same range of ammunition as its earlier version.
“The harder the fighting and longer the war, the more the infantry and in fact all arms lean on the gunners,” said Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery. Nothing epitomises this better than the range, precision and destructive power of the130 millimeter gun M-46.The ranging power and accuracy of this rugged and robust gun was then seen as it engaged targets with pin–point accuracy. Next to deploy and fire was the 155 mm Field Gun, SOLTAM ie the upgunned version of the 130 mm.with even greater range and lethality.
The maximum applause came next when the massive 155 mm Field Howitzer 77B, popularly called `Bofors’, rolled in. This weapon, with a high rate of fire, accuracy and consistency, also boasts of an auxiliary power unit which enables it to move and deploy independently. Here, twelve tons of weight rotated through 360 degrees, without apparent effort and the gun moved away to its firing platform easily. .Using its automatic loading system, the crane lifts three rounds weighing 170 kg, the climax being the 14 seconds it took to fire the whole burst.
Last came the rockets, the 122 mm Rocket Launcher GRAD BM-21,consisting of 40 tubes, which fire a salvo within 20 seconds, up to a max range of 20.4 km. .More to follow was ‘nape of the earth flying’ by skilled pilots of the Army Aviation Corps, a display of own artillery fire by a searcher UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) and a breathtaking free-fall-drop by Artillery’s elite paratroopers from 30,000 feet.
To follow up the firing came an equipment display-of the latest Surveillance and Target Acquistion(SATA) equipment, including the much-in-demand-Weapon Locating Radars. An array of medium to long range rockets and missiles that have enhanced reach and destructive capability were also showcased, including the Pinaka Multiple Launch Rocket System, the imported SMERCH Rocket System and the DRDO developed Supersonic Cruise Missile-BRAHMOS.
For nearly 2 hours through this demo, one sat spell bound, raising the collective confidence that the Indian Army can deliver On Time, Every Time!