From the Indian Army Air Defence Training (Source: Bharat Rakshak)
Lieutenants Neha Singh and Ratna Malik along with Captain Neharika Bhardwaj take position for the Igla-19K310 surface-to-air missile that weighs around 18 kg on their shoulder. They jog with the hands clenched in a fist near the chest, prop the missile on the shoulder and take aim. A heat seeking missile, the Igla latches on to the strongest heat signals and is used by the army, navy and air force. The drill is conducted using a simulator that can indicate different parameters of engagement and also the errors of the officer who fires.
The L/70 and double barrel
They stand in groups of six behind the L/70 gun. At the crack of the command, the group consisting of female and male officers load the gun in five seconds flat. Each officer has her/his assigned task on the equipment, that is rotated constantly to give each officer a chance to do every task.
Costing Rs 20 million (Rs 2 crores), the L/70 can launch 300 rounds of ammunition in a minute and was used in the 1971 Indo-Pak War. Four air defence units, equipped with this gun, have won battle honours and training on this weapon takes three weeks. During wartime, and in the units, the weapons are handled by the jawans (soldiers) under the command of the officers. Drills are essential for operating the guns effectively in the battlefield and the regiment's main role is to provide air defence protection to the assets of a field army.
"These officers will lead the actions of their jawans, so they need to be trained in operating all weapon systems," says Major Amit Baveja, the instructor, gunnery. The officers are also taught about the maintenance and upkeep of the weapons. Lieutenant Anuradha Mulasi, who hails from Dehradun, and Lieutenant Iman, a native of Patna, move from the Swedish-made L/70 to the Russian-origin, double barrel 23mm ZSU-23-2 gun which needs a crew of five to operate it. Known to be a versatile weapon, it has been used on the Siachen glacier and at the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu & Kashmir. This gun is very accurate and can bombard an enemy aircraft with a very high volume of fire, but this morning, Lieutenants Mulasi and Iman's target is a remote controlled airplane model for which they have to calculate the estimated speed, engage and fire.
Kurukshetra Training Area
Indian Army's Air Defence College
The East Coast of India (Lucknow)