New Delhi: The government's approval to the the purchase of 428 air defence guns at a cost of Rs 16,900 crore has brought a big relief to the Army which was relying on the 1960s vintage to protect its assets from aerial attacks.
The Army will now issue a Request for Proposal seeking quotations for the new guns.
The guns currently being used by the Army are L70 and Zu 23mm. Even though a number of modifications and upgrades were carried out over a period of time, it still remained obsolete in comparison to the modern ones.
In a letter dated March 12, 2012, the then Army Chief General VK Singh had warned former prime minister Manmohan Singh that the country's security was at risk as 97 per cent of air defence inventory was "obsolete".
Army chief Dalbir Singh Suhag had identified modernisation of the Corps of Army Air Defence as one of the priority areas.
The Army had recently inducted indigenously developed Akash surface to air missiles.
"The air defence guns that the Army has are not in match with any of the modern guns. Moreover, the radar systems for the guns were also obsolete," defence sources told PTI.
They added that the Army will soon issue an RFP seeking not only latest radar systems, but also guns that can fire "smart ammunition".
The guns should be able to fire with or without fire control system and also have night capabilities.
"The gun should fire a minimum 30mm rounds so that it can cause significant damage to the incoming flying objects. It should also be capable of being moved around on a broad guage," the sources said.