The vintage artillery with 25-pounder guns that traditionally fires the thundering ceremonial 21-Gun Salute during the Republic Day celebrations will be replaced by 105 mm Indian field guns this year, as the government makes a further push for its Make in India initiative.
During a press interaction here on Monday, Chief of Staff Delhi Area Maj Gen Bhavnish Kumar said, “We are transitioning towards indigenisation” and the “time is not far when all are equipment will be ‘swadeshi'”.
All equipment from the Army that will be showcased during the 74th Republic Day celebrations are made-in-India, he said, adding that the Akash weapon system and helicopters, Rudra and ALH Dhruv, will also be part of it. “This year the 21-Gun Salute will be fired by the 105 mm Indian field guns replacing the 25-pounders,” he said.
Part of the 2281 Field Regiment, seven cannons of early 1940s era form part of the artillery that has been firing the ceremonial salute in the backdrop of the Republic Day celebrations on Rajpath (renamed to Kartavya Path last year). Made in the United Kingdom, they had participated in the World War II.
The duration of the 21-Gun Salute coincides with the length of the national anthem.
“Each gun (25-pounder) is handled by a team of three personnel, and ideally all seven fire in a cyclical fashion until the 21st round is fired when hay of …jay jay hay is being sung or played,” a senior Army official had told PTI on January 26, 2017.
The weather had played a bit of a spoilsport at the Republic Day parade on Rajpath — now Kartavya Path — in 2017 but the ceremonial artillery unit had fired the traditional 21-Gun Salute with “clockwork precision” despite the rains.
Asked about the reason behind the move of replacing the 25-pounders, Maj Gen Kumar said, “Since the 105 mm Indian Field Gun is an indigenised gun, so we want to use this to replace the 25-pounder guns used earlier for the 21-Gun Salute. And, it is a matter of pride that we are showcasing our indigenous gun for this too”.
The 105 IFG (Indian Field Gun) was designed in 1972. The Gun Carriage factory, Jabalpur and Field Gun Factory, Kanpur, manufacture it. They are in service since 1984, he said.
These field guns are compact light and they can also be airdropped. It is a very good Indian gun, Maj Gen Kumar said.
Army sources said these guns (25-pounders) are “obsolete and phased out of the Army now. And, presently being used as warm trophies in various army establishments like the Artillery Centre, etc.”.
The 74th Republic Day celebrations will take place on the revamped Central Vista avenue as well as be the first at the ceremonial boulevard after Rajpath was renamed Kartavya Path.
A military contingent and a band contingent from Egypt will also be taking part in the celebrations, Maj Gen Kumar said, adding, they took part in the full dress rehearsal of the parade that took place on Monday.