Infantry - Weapons and Equipment

Over the centuries it has always been the foot soldiers who have led and captured land in enemy territory. They also man borders and have defended the territorial boundaries from invaders. History is replete with the valiant saga of scores of men who have defied odds to win battles for their armies.

Infantry is the major arm of the Indian Army. It is an arm of close combat with the task of closing in with the enemy to physically assault and capture ground. It is also required to prevent aggression within.The infantry is heavily committed in undertaking Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorist Operations. To perform the assigned tasks, the infantry should be equipped with the under mentioned weapons and equipment.

Infantry’s Weapons and Equipment

Assault Rifle, Sten Machine Carbine, 9 mm Pistol and Hand Grenades are the personal weapons for individual soldiers. All soldiers and officers carry one of these weapons along with hand grenades when they go to war.

5.56 mm Light Machine Gun: It can fire effectively up to 700 m. It is an automatic gun and has a higher rate of fire than an assault rifle. It is useful in breaking the enemy
forming up for final charge on own defences.

Rifle AK 203: It is a new assault rifle which is in the process of being introduced into the army. It will replace the INSAS weapon system and is manufactured as a joint venture between Russia and The Ordnance Factory Board, in Korwa, Amethi, Uttar Pradesh.

84 mm Rocket Launcher: This is used to destroy tanks, bunkers, vehicles etc. It can be used to illuminate the battle area as also for making smoke screens to hide movement of own troops.

51 mm Mortar: This is used to fire high explosive bombs on enemy. It is an area weapon use which can destroy the enemy. It can also fire illumination and smoke bombs.

7.62 mm Medium Machine Gun: It can fire 600 to 1000 rounds per minute at an effective distance of 1800 m. The 30 mm Automatic Grenade Launcher is best suited to engage enemies in the open. It has an ammunition box that can hold 30 grenades. It can fire up to 2300 m.

7.62 mm Dragunov Sniper Rifle: It has an effective range of 800 m and is widely used by sharp shooters and marksmen to eliminate individual enemy targets. It is very effectively used on the Line of Control at borders in Jammu and Kashmir.

40 mm Multi Grenade Launcher: It is capable of firing grenades up to 375 m. It is very effective in urban areas and jungle terrain.

81 mm Mortars: It is an area weapon which can fire high explosives, smoke and illuminating bombs. Its effective range is 5000 m (or 5 KM). It can fire in all types of terrain and in all weather conditions.

Anti Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM): With a range of upto four km, the ATGMs are very accurate and effective in destroying tanks in war.

Hand Held Thermal Imager (HHTI) and Battle Field Surveillance Radars (BFSR): The HHTI is used to detect enemy troops at 1.5 km and vehicles up to 3 km. It is very effective being used on the Line of Control where it is used for detecting terrorists and enemy troop intrusions. The BFSR can be used for detecting enemy movement for a distance up to 18 km.

Armoured Corps

In ancient times as well as till the later part of the medieval period, a sizeable number of troops of major armies used to fight on horses as part of the Cavalry force. The Cavalry, while it gave speed and manoeuvrability to the troops, also exposed them to the dangers of enemy cannons and other weapons against whom they had little personal protection.

The tanks, which they now use, were introduced to cater to an arm of soldiers who could fire on well entrenched enemies and give them the shock effect before the infantryman charged with his bayonet. In modern times these armoured tanks have replaced the horses. The armoured tanks are capable of heavy fire power, quicker mobility and manoeuvrability. They are employed to destroy enemy tanks, blow up bunkers and churn the target area by over running the objective.

They give close support to the infantry which normally follows behind the tanks in the last few hundred meters before the final assault on the objective. Armoured tanks, though being quick and offensive, cannot hold ground like the infantry. Night vision capabilities have made the tanks more versatile and lethal. The Armoured tanks in battle are a great source of fear for the opponents.

The introduction of tanks at the Zoji la Pass in the 1948 war changed the course of the battle and gave victory to the Indian Army.

T-72 and T-90 Tanks: Both these tanks are of Russian origin. The T-72 was the most popular tank after World War II. It was being used by over 40 countries worldwide. The T-90 tanks are the upgraded versions of T-72 with greater mobility, fire power and lethality.

Main Battle Tank (MBT) Arjun: It is an indigenously built tank with advanced features like automatic target locating, tracking and destruction. It has superior armour protection than the Russian T-90s.

Bridge Laying Tank: As the name suggests, it is used to lay bridges over obstacle ridden terrain to enable tanks, troops and logistical transport to cross over. The indigenously made 20-meter long 'Kartik' bridge laying tank is one of the widest tank bridges in the world. The bridge can carry all types of tanks and other vehicles in service with the Indian Army, including the Arjun MBT.

Mechanised Infantry

Over the decades, a need was felt to carry the infantry along with tanks which could give the offensive forces speed and fire power while keeping the soldiers safe and fresh to fight. The Mechanised Infantry is a combat arm that has the capability to carry soldiers on armoured vehicles called Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV) or Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) to transport infantry directly into battle. They follow tanks and dismount the troops who then fight as infantry as and when required.

Their role is to close in with the enemy by manoeuvre, to destroy or capture the enemy, repel the enemy attack by fire, engage in close combat or counter attack. The troops move in vehicles called BMPs which provide quick mobility to assaulting troops rapidly through small arms and indirect fire to deliver the infantry up to the objective and there
after continue to provide fire support from a flank. Currently, Russian made BMP-2 are in service in Mechanised Infantry. IFV can also float in water and cross water obstacles. It can carry ten personnel including the crew.


To unsettle the well-entrenched enemy and cause destruction to soften the target before the actual assault by instantly, there is a requirement of carrying out heavy bombardment. It is called preparatory bombardment. Some portion of this preparatory bombardment is done by the Air Force. The majority of it is left to the Artillery.

The role of Artillery is to severely deplete the enemy's will to fight through heavy bombardment. Artillery also fires at the enemy's concentration areas, logistic hubs and forward localities. They provide fire cover to infantry and armoured troops by softening enemy's resistance. They keep the enemy's head down and assist troops in launching assaults with minimum casualty.

In 'Operation Vijay' artillery played a stellar role in pulverising enemy's defences and causing heavy casualties. The Indian artillery fire was so intense that the snow and ice on the mountain top turned yellow.

Main artillery guns: 120 mm Mortars, 105 mm Indian Field Gun, 155 mm Bofors Gun, 130 mm Field Arty Gun, 155 mm Made in India 'Dhanush' are used by the Indian Army.

Weapon Locating Radars (WLR): These radars are used to locate enemy artillery guns and mortars,when they fire at us. By getting their exact location our own artillery then fires at enemy artillery and destroys it. This tactics is called "counter bombardment".

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV): These are employed to look into enemy territory and collect intelligence. Israeli made Heron Mark II are extensively used to carry out recce of enemy area as also in locating terrorist movements in Jammu and Kashmir.

Long Range Recce and Observation System (LORROS): It is used to locate and identify enemy troop and vehicle movement in war and for counter terrorist surveillance in Jammu and Kashmir. It is an optical device like a telescope.


Indian army is a modern army which is self-sufficient in fighting wars on all its terrains of mountains, plains, jungles, deserts and glaciers. The combat arms like the Infantry and Armoured critically need the support of the combat support arms to win wars. While the combat arms lead the assault into battle, the combat support arms ensure victory through fire power, logistics and technical assistance.

The foremost among the combat support arms are the Engineers. Engineers role is to ensure mobility, counter mobility and ensure survivability during war. They are tasked for laying tracks, helipads, airstrips, bridges, water sources, laying and breaching mines and construction of field defences. They also create obstacles in the path of the enemy by demolishing bridges to delay and cut off the logistic chain to the assaulting troops. 

Major Engineer Equipments and Bridges are AM-50, PMS, Bridge Laying Tank, Girder Bridge, Bailey Bridge and Pontoon Bridge.

Army Air Defence (AAD)

During war the enemy's intention is to destroy all vital installations by aerial bombing. The aircraft with speeds faster than what the human eye can detect require sophisticated equipment and counter measures to nullify the evil designs of the enemy. The AAD is tasked to protect vital static installations like nuclear plants, air bases, radar sites, etc. from enemy air threat. They are also responsible for protection of Indian air space from enemy aircraft and missiles.

Resources available with AAD are Shilka, L-70 Gun , Kwadrat, Strella, IGLA Missiles, ZU- 23mm Guns, Tangushka and OSA AK -Surface to Air Missiles.

Army Aviation Corp

The combat arms at times of war and peace need assistance for recce of inhospitable or unknown terrain, casualty evacuation and ferrying of supplies to air maintained locations that need stocking of supplies especially during winters when all road communications gets closed owing to heavy snowfall. It is in such critical situations
that the Army Aviation Corps charts its role to support the ground troops.

The versatile Army Aviation Corps operates in all kinds of terrain be it the deserts, plains, forest and high mountains to the bone chilling Siachin glacier. Its missions are mainly dedicated to casualty evacuation, ferrying of soldiers and supplies, recce and search and destroy operations. 

The main helicopters with the aviation corps are Dhruv and Cheetah.


The troops during war require secure communication to pass and receive sensitive information. These are then used by commanders at all levels to plan and execute the various stages of war. The corps of signals is the backbone of the Army's communication setup. They handle military communications, operate and maintain Army Wide Area Network (AWAN) which is the Army owned internet. They protect against cyber threats from anti national elements.

They also carry out electronic warfare using technology and equipment developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). Basically their role is to ensure communication which enables commanders to gain information from the forward locations in war, issue instructions and orders lower to commanders and forward roops. Progress of the battle is also relayed to the higher commanders.