NEW DELHI: Indian Army on Tuesday de-commissioned two of its longest serving Artillery systems. The Mahajan Field Firing Ranges witnessed the decommissioning ceremony marked by the customary firing of last salvos of the 130mm Self Propelled M-46 Catapult Guns and the 160mm Tampella Mortars in the presence of the Director General Artillery Lieutenant General K Ravi Prasad, the head of the Arm of Artillery.
The proud end of the systems followed a long operational experience. The 130mm Catapult, with a range of more than 27 km, was a successful merger of two existing weapon systems: Vijayanta tanks and 130mm M-46 guns.
This hybrid platform was a response to the need for a mobile Artillery gun system to support strike formations on the Western borders, after the 1965 and 1971 wars. The guns were inducted in 1981 and were employed successfully during a number of operations.
The 160mm Tampella mortars, with a range of 9.6km, were inducted after the 1962 war with China to fulfill the need for a weapon system to clear high crests of the Northern borders. Originally an import from the Israeli Defence Forces, this mortar was successfully deployed on the Line of Control in the Leepa valley and the Hajipir Bowl and played a crucial part in maintaining the sanctity of the Line of Control. The mortars also played a significant part in the 1999 Kargil war.
These weapon systems, having been in the inventory of the Indian Army for close to 60 years, have been decommissioned to make way for newer equipment employing the latest technologies.