Exercise Agni Warrior (XAW) is an Artillery live-firing exercise conducted in Devlali Field Firing Range from 12 November to 1 December. This exercise involved 175 troops from the 23rd and 24th Battalion Singapore Artillery (23 and 24 SA), as well as 80 troops from the Indian Armed Forces. Hosted by the Indian School of Artillery, XAW was an exercise that involved the use of Singapore Armed Forces (SAF)'s 155mm Singapore Light Weight Howitzer (SLWH) Pegasus, the world's first self-propelled heliborne howitzer.
The 155mm SLWH Pegasus is both self-propelled and heli-portable by the CH-47D Chinook helicopter.
Held in India since 2004, XAW is conducted under the ambit of the Army Bilateral Agreement. The bilateral agreement, renewed in November 2018 at the 3rd India-Singapore Defence Ministers' Dialogue, bears testament to the strong and long-standing defence relationship between Singapore and India. Both armies share a long history of military cooperation through exercises, military exchanges, visits, courses and other professional exchanges. These regular interactions between the two armed forces facilitated the sharing of knowledge and the establishment of personal friendships between the SAF and Indian Armed Forces.
One of the key highlight for XAW 18 was the Field Artillery Training Evaluation Programme, a three-day exercise aimed to evaluate the battery's operational readiness. It was also the first time our gunners were exposed to the handling and firing of live 155mm ammunition (each weighing 45kg). The battery was assessed on its speed in the different types of deployment, as well as its competency and precision in executing fire missions on a variety of targets up to 10km away. One of the exercise highlights was the light mode insertion where the battery had to move in by foot, carrying rounds and charges, with the SLWH driven to the firing position in self-propelled mode. With the added stress of having to navigate through tough terrain, this mode was significantly challenging, yet the battery was able to carry out their mission successfully.
The 155mm SLWH Pegasus being deployed by the gunners from the 23 SA.
CFC David Wong Meng Kit, who was responsible for laying the gun to the target, shared that the live-firing during this exercise was most memorable for him. "I thoroughly enjoyed myself during the live-firing of the SLWH Pegasus as it is not every day where you can fire a field howitzer. This live-firing experience has indeed enhanced our capabilities as gunners. Being a gun layer, I had to do multiple checks to ensure the gun was aiming at the correct grid as a slight shift in the gun would result in the round dropping far off target."
Reflecting on the deployment process of the field howitzers, CFC David felt that it was a tiring but fulfilling experience. "It was tiring, but I was heartened to see the whole detachment working together to achieve the timings set out for us."
Gunners from 23 SA making sure that the SLWH Pegasus is aiming accurately at the target.
Both armies also had an opportunity to interact and share about their respective platforms and small arms at a static display held at the Indian School of Artillery. XAW culminated in a joint live-firing involving the SAF's SLWH Pegasus, Field Artillery Meteorological System and the Indian Armed Forces' 155mm Field Howitzer 77B.
Soldiers from SAF and Indian Armed Forces during the professional exchange.
3SG Muhammad Ammar Bin Horlis, Detachment Commander of the ranging gun, spoke on some of the challenges faced over during the exercise. "Being a Detachment Commander during XAW was an experience fraught with challenging yet joyful moments. There were a plethora of duties that I had to fulfil to ensure a smooth and safe deployment while looking out for the well-being of my men. Furthermore, during the live-firing, I was responsible for keeping track of ammunition expenditure and ensuring that the right rounds and charges were being fired. Despite so, this was definitely a fruitful experience that had instilled within me many indelible lessons and qualities."
XAW 18 demonstrated the professionalism and operational-readiness of Our Army's Artillery units. These experiences certainly helped hone our soldiers and commanders' competencies, commitment to our nation's defence, as well as confidence with their platforms and roles. The exercise was also an excellent opportunity to cement and reaffirm the close defence ties between the SAF and the Indian Armed Forces.
Group photo of the troops from SAF and the Indian Armed Forces.
Contributed by: 23 SA